Friday, July 11, 2008

Another Reason not to Work too Much

Thanks to Mike of the Shorter Worktime Group for sending us this article:

Toyota Camry engineer died from 'overwork'
July 10, 2008

A Japanese labour bureau has ruled that one of Toyota Motor Corp's top car engineers died from working too many hours, the latest decision against overwork in Japan, where stoic acceptance of extended overtime has long been the norm.

"In the two months up to his death, he averaged more than 80 hours of overtime per month, the criteria for overwork," an officer at the Aichi Labour Bureau, who asked to remain anonymous because she is not an official spokeswoman, said today.

The man who died was aged 45 and had been under severe pressure as the lead engineer in developing a hybrid version of Toyota's blockbuster Camry line, said Mikio Mizuno, the lawyer representing his wife. His identity is being withheld at the request of his family, who continue to live in Toyota City where the company is based.

He regularly worked nights and weekends, was frequently sent abroad and was grappling with shipping a model for the influential North American International Auto Show in Detroit when he died of ischemic heart disease in January 2006.

His daughter found his body at their home the day before he was to leave for the United States.

The ruling was handed down June 30 and will allow his family to collect benefits from his work insurance, Mizuno said.

In a statement, Toyota offered its condolences and said it would work to improve monitoring of the health of its workers.

It is the most recent in a string of decisions against long working hours in Japan, which is struggling to cut down on deaths from overworking, known as "karoshi." Such deaths have steadily increased since the Health Ministry first recognised the phenomenon in 1987.

A court in central Japan last year ordered the government to pay compensation to Hiroko Uchino, the wife of a Toyota employee who collapsed at work and died at age 30 in 2002. She took the case to court after her application to the local labour bureau for compensation was rejected.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Workers of the World Relax Film

You can now view the short film, Workers of the World Relax, at or just click on the title of this post. Directed and Produced by Conrad Schmidt of the Work Less Party in Vancouver, BC, this video is a summary of Chapter 4 from Conrad Schmidt's book Workers Of The World Relax: the Simple Economics of Less Industrial Work. Further chapters will be released on video in the future.

Friday, July 04, 2008

PSW Supports Vacation Law

PSW supports a three-week paid vacation law for all Americans. Since a shorter workweek is difficult to get (for most people) unless you work part-time, we need to work on getting a decent vacation for Americans. Most Europeans get 4-6 weeks off a year, and when you think about it, getting a mere one or two weeks off a year out of 52 is just a drop in the bucket.

I am asking everyone to visit the new web site,, and support this organization. And while you are there, you can thank John de Graaf and Joe Robinson for all their work so that we can have more leisure time! Don't forget to tell all your friends.

I have heard more horror stories of people whose health suffered because they worked too much, and even worse, those who have died either right after retirement or at a young age.

Even if you don't have the funds to go anwhere (due to high gas prices and/or low income), you can take a vacation right in your own home by turning off the TV, cell phone, and other electronic devices and letting the answering machine get your phone messages. Then, get a chair, grab a book, fix yourself a tall glass of ice tea, and go out in your back yard (weather permitting) and R-E-L-A-X. Go to your local museum, take a walk in a park. bike to your local tea or coffee shop, relax in a library, etc. Most people don't have time to do these things during a regular workweek.

Your help is needed! Support a vacation law for all Americans!