Browsing articles tagged with " Job Safety"
Jun 9, 2014
Mary Oso

BUZZFEED! UFC Fight Night 42: ‘Henderson vs. Khabilov’ complete FOX Sports …

It’s time for another edition of Buzzfeed, breaking down UFC Fight Night 42: “Henderson vs. Khabilov,” which takes place TONIGHT (Sat., June 7, 2014) from Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Here is everything you need to know about the mixed martial arts (MMA) event that takes place later this evening.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Who: Benson Henderson vs. Rustam Khabilov
What: UFC Fight Night 42
When: June 7, 2014
Where: Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Why It Matters: There are four lightweight fights on the main card, signaling a potential change in the UFC ranking system on Monday morning.

This event isn’t going to provide us with anything historical, apart from a couple of noteworthy bouts.

What’s Hot: Apart from Albuquerque in general, the two feature lightweight contests should be a lot of fun, while the rest of the main card is a satisfactory offering from our favorite promotion.

Also, this card is giving the fighters who compete in the lower weight classes a chance to shine, since the heaviest weight class on the entire FOX Sports 1 (FS1) broadcast is the 170-pound division (including the televised “Prelims”).

What’s Not: Technically, this is the third UFC card in seven days, and although nobody is tying you up like Jigsaw’s accomplices in Saw and forcing you to watch, it raises concerns about how much volume we truly need if the fights aren’t exactly marquee match ups.

We can’t forget about our love for the sport, but this is beginning to look more and more like an actual sports league, which is hard to follow when you can’t name most of the athletes on one team.

New Blood: There are two fresh faces you need to familiarize yourself with tonight.

Jake Lindsey will be making his Octagon debut, after going 9-0 on the regional scene, which include two appearances in Titan FC. All of the lightweight’s victories have come by way of stoppage except for two unanimous decisions on his record, and he will be opening up the FS1 televised “Prelims.”

Roger Narvaez is also undefeated, making his promotional debut in the very first fight of the night, broadcast on UFC Fight Pass. The light heavyweight has competed in Legacy FC once, and his record stands at 6-0, with five stoppage victories.

Original Card vs. Actual Card: There weren’t too many cancellations for this fight card, except for two contests on the “Prelims” that needed a bit of reshuffling with both individuals just mentioned in the “New Blood” portion.

Yosdenis Cedeno had to pull out of his bout against Jon Tuck due to injury, with Lindsey taking his place.

The ultimate coffee grinder Patrick Cummins was supposed to take on Francimar Barroso in the first fight of the night, but Narvaez has replaced the Brazilian after he suffered an injury, as well.

How The “Prelims” Look: They aren’t mesmerizing, and the five fights taking shape on the undercard begs us to ask the question if something akin to the Strikeforce: “Challengers” series would work for UFC.

The “Prelims” will be headlined by bantamweight prospect Sergio Pettis, who looks for his second UFC win against Yaotzin Meza. The lightweight champion’s little brother is currently 1-1 in the Octagon.

Bobby Voelker dukes it out against Lance Benoist in the welterweight division, while Scott Jorgensen battles Danny Martinez in a flyweight battle. Rounding up the undercard is Tuck vs. Lindsey and Cummins vs. Narvaez.

Who Needs A Win Badly: In terms of keeping one’s job, there are a handful of competitors needing to leave New Mexico with a win under their belts.

Longtime veteran of the sport Yves Edwards has only won twice in his past seven contests, even though he may be closer to retirement than a pink slip.

Jorgensen has only won once in his past six bouts, which means a fourth loss in a row would definitely send him packing.

Apart from his three consecutive losses being entertaining fights, Voelker needs to win on Saturday night to keep his UFC run going. His opponent Benoist can’t risk losing three straight, either.

Meza needs to beat Pettis, since he’s 2-3 in his last five bouts, with job safety an uncertainty in this day and age.

You’ve also got Cummins, who needs to win his second fight in the Octagon to not only prove the haters wrong, but to save his job, too.

Finally, Diego Sanchez needs to beat Ross Pearson if he doesn’t want to be on the first three-fight losing streak of his career. UFC wouldn’t fire “The Nightmare,” yet concerns would be raised about his health and fighting future.

Interest Level: 7/10

The event should be an entertaining one, even if it’s hard to follow what’s happening on a weekly basis. The main card is solid, with several match ups sure to materialize as entertaining scraps. You’ve got a former champion in the main event, a fan favorite returning home in the co-main event, and a number of possible contenders in their respective division slugging it out for recognition.

Should be a decent night of fights.

Here is the full UFC Fight Night 42: “Henderson vs. Khabilov” fight card:

Main Event:

155 lbs.: Benson Henderson vs. Rustam Khabilov

FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):

155 lbs.: Ross Pearson vs. Diego Sanchez
125 lbs.: John Dodson vs. John Moraga
155 lbs.: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Jason High
155 lbs.: Yves Edwards vs. Piotr Hallman
135 lbs.: Bryan Caraway vs. Erik Perez

FOX Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET):

135 lbs.: Yaotzin Meza vs. Sergio Pettis
170 lbs.: Lance Benoist vs. Bobby Voelker
125 lbs.: Scott Jorgensen vs. Danny Martinez
155 lbs.: Jake Lindsey vs. Jon Tuck

Fight Pass Prelims (7:30 p.m. ET):

205 lbs.: Patrick Cummins vs. Roger Narvaez

Remember too, that will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 42 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 main card, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.

See you there, Maniacs.

Jun 8, 2014
Mary Oso

Oversupply of engineers makes profession less respectable, lucrative

Representatives from various engineering chambers in the country have complained about the working conditions of engineers, noting that they have to shoulder many responsibilities and an oversupply of individuals in this profession makes engineering a less respectable job with low salaries.

Engineers, mining engineers in particular, have come to the nation’s agenda due to the mining tragedy in the town of Soma in the western province of Manisa last month, which claimed the lives of 301 people, including several mining engineers. The cause of the disaster is still uncertain.

According to Turkey’s labor laws, workplaces in related sectors have to employ engineers relevant to their field of study. However, engineers are employed in some workplaces simply to fulfill a legal obligation and no heed is paid to their professional credentials, while they are given too many responsibilities for which they do not have sufficient training in some businesses, which make them the main culprits if something goes wrong.

It would not be wrong to say that engineers are respected neither in the public nor in the private sector in Turkey. They are not respected in the latter because employers pay them low salaries, are able to threaten to fire them if they don’t abide by the rules due to the oversupply of engineers, and the reason for their weak standing in the public sector is because they are only given signing authority and nothing else.

According to Nedret Durukan, head of the İstanbul branch of the Chamber of Mining Engineers, it would be unrealistic to expect engineers to be valued when even human life is not valued in a system which is focused on profit and production maximization.

Talking about the problems faced by mining engineers in particular, he said employees in the mining sector are trying to do their jobs in the most risky, unhealthy and unsafe circumstances and it is mostly mining engineers who face legal action following each and every tragedy.

“They shoulder the responsibility of any problem in the workplace, although they are not given any power or authority to improve working conditions. Employers generally try to evade punishment in case of an accident by putting the blame on engineers,” said Durukan.

He said the reason why engineers were no longer respected by their employers and subordinates is underemployment caused by an oversupply of engineers in the country, adding that engineers are threatened with dismissal when they attempt to correct technical shortcomings in a workplace.

“The number of mining engineers is much more than the need in the mining sector. So, engineers are employed for very low wages. … When workplaces employ an engineer, they want them to have the certificate of a technical supervisor, a work safety expert and so on, in order to ‘save money’ by making one employee to do a variety of tasks. An engineer’s professional knowledge is ignored. When faced with objections from engineers about work-related issues, employers tell them there are many unemployed engineers outside. … How can one expect an engineer to act in line with the disciplines of engineering when they have fears about losing their job all the time?” he asked.

Persona non grata: Food engineers

Most food-related companies in Turkey hire food engineers just because they have a legal obligation to do so, but the companies have no interest in food engineers’ professional knowledge, according to the deputy head of the Chamber of Food Engineers, İsa Tahta.

He said most companies see food engineers as “unnecessary” people who hinder production and create additional expenses.

“Since these engineers are paid by the company owners, they do not have any binding power on the owners and when they raise their voices against anything, they are fired,” Tahta said.

A former food engineer, P.E., who requested not to be named, said she quit the job because she saw no respect given to her profession and was unable to tolerate food companies’ ignorance of human health concerns.

“If there are not mass deaths caused by food poisoning, this is a favor of God. In the company I used to work at, I was afraid to go to the storage room alone because there were mice there as big as a cat. I was unable to convince the chefs to abide by the rules I set. Chefs were important staff for the boss while I was the one who was employed to fulfill a legal requirement. So, chefs would not take me seriously. I was not even able to make chefs wash their hands before cooking,” she said.

Another food engineer, Pınar Karalay, also quit her job because she said the professional knowledge of food engineers is not respected and they are paid inadequately. Karalay said although everything seems perfect on paper and in line with the relevant regulations, it is not so in practice.

“’Is there a food engineer? Yes. Is she offering training? Yes. Inspections are wonderful!’ To say the opposite of this on paper is not possible because there are so many unemployed food engineers, so one would be afraid of being fired. Do you know there are workplaces that pay monthly salaries as low as TL 750 to food engineers? You can’t believe how a low-educated boss insults a food engineer in front of the staff,” she said.

According to Karalay, no matter what laws or regulations are put into force, as long as there is not a change of mentality and there is not a strong inspection system in place, things will go on like this for the food engineers.

Educational planning a must

The head of the İstanbul branch of the Chamber of Electrical Engineers Beyza Metin said there is an absolute need for educational planning in order to address the oversupply of engineers in the country, and so to restore the respect given to this profession.

He said new universities are being opened in Turkey every year but most of these universities do not offer a quality engineering education.

“Universities are being opened with only a few lecturers. I think education needs to be planned. Engineering departments are being opened simply to prevent unemployment. All professional disciplines in Turkey are becoming insecure. Working circumstances are poor and many engineers cannot perform their jobs. Actually, many people cannot work professionally because they fear losing their jobs,” he said.

Referring to the tragedy in the Soma mine, Metin said as news reports have revealed, the company operating the mine employed mining engineers and work safety experts as required by law but they only existed on paper, adding that those people were not allowed to do the jobs for which they had trained but were asked to perform irrelevant tasks.

“For instance, it turned out that one of the engineers was working in the ventilation unit. Inspections at workplaces are of crucial importance. As it was seen in Soma, when inspections are ignored or not done meticulously, disasters are very likely to happen,” Metin said.

Jun 7, 2014
Mary Oso

Miners in Turkey ‘need union power’ to win safety

The Militant (logo)


Vol. 78/No. 23      June 16, 2014


Miners in Turkey ‘need
union power’ to win safety

<!– Second headline
(front page)

“All they care about is coal, coal, coal,” miner Sezai Yildirim told Bianet, a Turkish news website. “You know how they say safety first; well, that’s a lie.” Two of Yildirim’s brothers died in the May 13 fire that killed more than 300 miners at the Eynez mine run by the Soma Holding Corp.

Yildirim works at Ata Bacasi, one of the company’s two other mines in Soma. When asked about safety training, he replied, “What training? They took us in the morning, handed us the helmet and boots and took us underground.”

Miners at Soma’s Ata Bacasi, Eynez and Isiklar mines have for weeks been refusing to go to work until safety conditions are improved.

“At first management’s response was to say miners were off until June 1 and they would still get paid. But the workers insisted on safety measures,” Cafer Alp, a leader of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey, told the Militant in a May 30 phone interview from Izmir, a couple hours drive from Soma. “There was so much pressure coming from the workers, the government had to say the mines are unsafe” and close them indefinitely.

“The miners don’t want to die in the mine,” said Alp who has been to Soma twice since the disaster, talking to miners who want to affiliate with the confederation.

The Eynez mine, which is not shut, is not very mechanized. Workers there used pneumatic drills and dynamite to extract the coal.

At a more modern mine nearby — run by Imbat — 1,600 out of 6,000 miners are refusing to work until safety is improved, Alp said.

The majority of workers at the Soma mines are contract workers, Alp said, who get paid half what permanent workers get and with fewer benefits.

Permanent workers at the Soma mines belong to the Maden-Is mine workers union, but many workers see it as a company union and forced its president to resign last week.

More workers are seeing that “they need a powerful union, a union that can stop production if conditions are unsafe,” Alp said.

Soma Holding has held the lease on the three mines — which are owned by the government’s Turkish Coal Enterprises — since 2005, when the ruling Justice and Development Party privatized production at mines around the country.

Lignite coal production nationwide increased tenfold between 2003 and 2012, according to Hurriyet Daily News. In 2012 the owner of Soma Holding boasted he reduced costs of extracting the coal from $130 a ton in 2005 to $23.80.

A 2010 report by the Chamber of Mining Engineers of Turkey warned about the dangers in the underground lignite mines and in mining throughout the country. “But the government never listened to us,” chamber spokesperson Ragip Varol, told the Militant. “The accident in Soma was not an ‘accident.’”

Varol noted that mine safety officials have the authority to close the mine if there are unsafe conditions. “But they are employed by the owner of the mines,” he said. “If they report an unsafe condition the owner may fire them.”

The Eynez mine had lots of “problems such as a terribly designed ventilation system, unsafe shaft design and operation, a lack of control mechanisms and improperly sealed shafts,” he said.

The Chamber of Mining Engineers has been fighting to change a number of mining regulations, including one that prevents contract workers from joining labor unions.

There are already laws, although not strict enough, dealing with job safety, Varol said. “But they are not applied in real life, because they cost the companies a lot of money.”

That’s why miners need to join “independent workers unions,” Varol said. “If they do not come together, nobody will give their rights to them.”

In the aftermath of the disaster, protests took place across the country, fueled by the open contempt Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed for the miners, which included a public statement after the fire where he declared that “death is the destiny of coal miners.” He also threatened and physically attacked protesting miners.

At a demonstration in the village of Kinik at the end of May to protest the lack of mine safety, miners told a reporter for al-Jazeera about their low pay, frequent injuries on the job and arbitrary firings at the Soma mines. Soma miner Ramazan Gursel argued that they should protest the working conditions, not the prime minister. But other miners disagreed chanting, “The murderer state will be held accountable for the Soma massacre.”

Meanwhile, another miner died on the job in the southern province of Kahramanmaras June 1.

Yasemin Aydinoglu in Elmira, New York, contributed to this article.



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Jun 6, 2014
Mary Oso

We need a new strategy to halt farm death tragedies

More shocking advertisement campaigns first step to tackle safety crisis

Three out of every four farm fatalities so far in 2014 have been caused by tractors and machinery

It has been a shocking few weeks on our farms. Every few days has brought news of yet another farm accident.


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Figures from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) show that there have been 12 reported farm fatalities this year.

This compares to two farm fatalities recorded at this time last year – that’s an alarming increase, and our sympathies go out to each of the 12 families that have been affected.

At this rate, we could be headed for one of the worst years on record.

An astonishing 75pc of all farm fatalities so far in 2014 have been caused by tractors and machinery.

We are now entering the deadly on-farm months of June and July, where the risk of a fatality happening is highest, according to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

The buzz of silage machinery working becomes all-consuming for some, particularly younger inexperienced operators, and the temptation to take risks and cut corners when working against the clock is ever-present.

Contractors and farmers must plan their work to reduce risks – that’s the joint message from the HSA and farming organisations.

The HSA has also been carrying out an increased number of farm safety visits over the past few weeks, but looking at the latest figures one would have to question the effectiveness of their campaign to date.

You’ve got to respect the job safety inspectors do. These guys have to face some of the toughest scenes imaginable in the aftermath of an accident in the workplace.

But I think it’s time for the HSA’s senior managers to change tack if they are to reduce the on-farm carnage.


They need to start delivering more shocking and realistic messages so that farmers can see the types of injuries tractors and machinery cause every week in Ireland.

What might this involve? In my opinion it needs to be as hard-hitting as possible.

The Road Safety Authority’s strategy of shocking TV ad campaigns have been an unequivocal success in terms of reducing deaths on our roads. There is no reason this approach wouldn’t work for farm safety as well.

Fatalities are only one aspect of the inherent risk involved in farming, however.

Each year there are about 2,500 non-fatal farm accidents reported. These can be really life-changing injuries, such as losing a hand or a leg as a result of a PTO entanglement.

Each year, the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, sees a stream of farmer inpatients being fitted for a prosthetic leg or arm. They must then learn how to adapt to life without limb.

While farmers are extremely lucky to survive these accidents in the first instance, these injuries can effectively end a farming career.

In 2013, there were 16 farming deaths recorded; in 2012 the figure was 21 deaths; in 2011 there were 22 deaths, and in 2010 there were 25 deaths.

Including the 12 fatalities recorded so far this year, that’s 96 lives lost on farms since the beginning of 2010, and 96 families left without someone special.

On these pages we publish the details of how 2014′s farm fatalities happened. It isn’t easy reading but, frankly, it is essential reading for those serious about upping the ante about farm safety this summer.

Don’t let this be the last opportunity you get to train your family and staff to an even higher level of farm safety practice.


Indo Farming

Jun 5, 2014
Mary Oso

OSHA cites Idaho farm in farmworker’s death

An Idaho farm has been cited with five safety violations and faces $25,200 in proposed fines after an investigation into the Feb. 11 death of a worker, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said.

Antonio Briano, 54, died from mass trauma after becoming entangled in mixing equipment used for cattle feed at Anderson Farms in Heyburn, in the Magic Valley. The manner of his death could not be determined, Minidoka County Coroner Lucky Bourn told county commissioners in February.

“This terrible tragedy sadly demonstrates that a worker’s life can be lost in an instant because of an employer’s failure to implement required safety measures,” said David Kearns, area director of OSHA’s Boise office.

That office cited Anderson Farms for three serious violations and two “other-than-serious” violations.

“It was a tragic, tragic accident,” said Trent Anderson of Anderson Farms. “What we got fined for wouldn’t have prevented the accident. He (Briano) was somewhere he shouldn’t have been and knew he shouldn’t have been. It was a bad accident, and we feel for the family.”

The Heyburn business was cited for failure to establish a lockout/tagout program and procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance. The employer failed to provide hardware, such as locks, to prevent unexpected start-ups of equipment, OSHA found. Anderson Farms also was cited for failure to follow permit-required confined space regulations.

Other violations included the company’s failure to report a worker’s death and to keep an OSHA injury and illness log.

OSHA violations are considered serious if death or severe injury could result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about. A violation is named other-than-serious if it has a direct relationship to job safety and health but would not cause death or severe harm.

In Idaho, 19 workers were killed on the job in 2012. They were among the 4,628 injuries on job sites, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jun 4, 2014
Mary Oso

OSHA Cites Heyburn Farm in Farmworker’s Death – Twin Falls Times

HEYBURN • Anderson Farms has been cited with five safety violations and faces $25,200 in proposed fines after an investigation into the Feb. 11 death of worker Antonio Briano, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported Tuesday.

Briano, 54, died from mass trauma after becoming entangled in mixing equipment used for cattle feed. The manner of his death could not be determined, Minidoka County Coroner Lucky Bourn told county commissioners in February, saying he sent his report to OSHA for investigation.

“This terrible tragedy sadly demonstrates that a worker’s life can be lost in an instant because of an employer’s failure to implement required safety measures,” said David Kearns, area director of OSHA’s Boise office.

That office cited Anderson Farms for three serious violations and two “other-than-serious” violations.

“It was a tragic, tragic accident,” said Trent Anderson of Anderson Farms. “What we got fined for wouldn’t have prevented the accident. He (Briano) was somewhere he shouldn’t have been and knew he shouldn’t have been. It was a bad accident, and we feel for the family.”

Briano’s family members could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Heyburn business was cited for failure to establish a lockout/tagout program and procedures to protect workers from moving machine parts during servicing and maintenance. The employer failed to provide hardware, such as locks, to prevent unexpected start-ups of equipment, OSHA found. Anderson Farms also was cited for failure to follow permit-required confined space regulations.

Other violations included the company’s failure to report a worker’s death and to keep an OSHA injury and illness log.

OSHA violations are considered serious if death or severe injury could result from a hazard that an employer knew or should have known about. A violation is named other-than-serious if it has a direct relationship to job safety and health but would not cause death or severe harm.

In Idaho, 19 workers were killed on the job in 2012. They were among the 4,628 injuries on job sites, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jun 3, 2014
Mary Oso

03.06.2014 18:10 – Draft bill to set pensions for Soma families

ISTANBUL – 03.06.2014 18:10:06

The government is currently in the process of drafting a bill to grant pensions to the families of victims of last month’s Soma mining disaster, the deadliest industrial accident in Turkey’s history with a death toll of 302, but it comes short of covering all work-related accidents and is confined only to the tragedy in Soma.

Today’s Zaman has learned that a sack law, so named since it includes amendments to a number of laws at the same time, has been sent by the government to Parliament for deliberation.

Speaking at the Turkish Drivers and Automobile Federation (TŞOF) general assembly on Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed the preparations and provided details about the content of the bill.

This law includes granting pensions to immediate family members of deceased miners in Soma, even if a lack of social security insurance would have otherwise precluded them from receiving the pension. Also, the poverty criteria — specifically, a condition stipulating who would receive retirement pensions — was abolished to give money to parents who lost their children in the mine explosion.

Erdoğan said 67 families in Soma had not met the minimum criteria to be granted a pension and that the law would make it possible for all the families of the Soma miners, even if an employee had only worked one day in the mine.

Every day in Turkey an average of four workers die from work-related incidents; measures such as training employees in job safety and adjusting the length of the workday have not proven effective in bringing this number down.

According to current laws, widows and orphaned children have the right to receive a pension from the state only if the worker had been insured for at least five years before death and had, accordingly, paid premiums for at least 900 workdays. Due to this requirement, which a majority of the victims of the Soma disaster do not meet, the survivors would have been deprived of any pension from family members killed in the Soma mine. As a remedy, the draft bill has included them in a temporary article to be added to the current laws on labor and social security insurance.

Additionally, the bill envisages forgiving outstanding premiums owed by deceased workers to the Social Security Institution (SGK).

Erdoğan said Soma miners would continue receiving wages from the unemployment fund during the time the mine is closed. He also promised to employ the immediate relatives of the “martyrs in the mine” in public institutions.

Erdoğan said the age limit for miners will be lowered from 55 to 50. A worker will be able to reach retirement even at the age of 43 if his vacation time is included in the “depreciation calculations.”

Additionally, the number of days of paid annual leave has been increased by four, and daily work shifts have been lowered from eight to six hours, he added.

(Cihan/Today’s Zaman)


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Jun 2, 2014
Mary Oso

Here’s why you should be paying attention to France right now

France’s favorite comic strip hero is Asterix the Gaul, a mustachioed warrior whose village stands alone against the might of the Roman Empire — helped by a magic potion that endows the inhabitants with superhuman strength.

When Marine Le Pen talks about France’s challenges in the 21st century, it sounds like the whole country has become that redoubtable Gallic village.

Her France will pluckily resist any menace from the outside world, be it from American big business plotting to buy up French companies, foreign immigrants intent on grabbing French jobs, or European Union bureaucrats determined to expose France to the cruel winds of economic globalization.

“I will put in place the protection a nation owes to its citizens,” Le Pen said last Tuesday, two days after her ultranationalist National Front party came first in France’s elections to the European Parliament, the European Union’s legislative body.

“We are going to fight against the trans-Atlantic trade agreement, we are going to fight against the handing over of sovereignty to the European Union, we are going to fight against any more austerity imposed by an EU led by Mrs. Merkel,” she told BFM-TV. “We will defend France.”

Patriotic policy

That fighting talk is going down well in a country mired in economic stagnation, confronted by double-digit unemployment, and suffering a deep malaise over perceived threats to the job safety, high labor standards, and generous social benefits which have become part of the French way of life.

Le Pen won over a quarter of French voters in last week’s election, humiliating the Socialist Party of beleaguered President Francois Hollande and the center-right opposition.

She has big ambitions, but many doubt Le Pen has the magic potion to cure France’s ills.

The National Front’s “patriotic economic policy” includes replacing the euro with a resuscitated French franc; erecting trade barriers to foil “unfair” competition from the likes of China; banning foreigners from buying French companies; raising wages; and scrapping the independence of the central bank so it can produce money at the government’s beck and call.

Mainstream economists view such ideas as a roadmap to disaster, via inflation, isolation, and more debt.

“It’s useless, profoundly unrealistic and completely impossible to implement,” sums up Gerard Cornilleau, deputy director for research at the French Economic Observatory. “It’s completely off target.”

Such views should provide plenty of ammunition for the government to take fire at Le Pen’s simplistic solutions.

Left vs. right

The problem for Hollande and his new Prime Minister Manuel Valls is that lots of French — including many within their own Socialist Party — agree with at least part of Le Pen’s analysis.

Many blame international free market economics and austerity policies imposed by the European Union for France’s economic woes, and believe protectionism and greater state spending are the answer.

Last month 41 Socialist lawmakers rebelled against the government by refusing to vote for 50 billion euros ($68 billion) in budget cuts. Valls said the measure — which passed with a narrow majority — is needed to hold down government debt that soared to 93 percent of economic output last year, up from 82 percent in 2010.

“Our electorate sees the way Francois Hollande is trying to outdo the right in reducing public spending as a slap in the face,” one of the rebel legislators Pascal Cherki told the daily Le Figaro recently.

“We can’t be surprised if they turn their back on us,” said the left-winger. “I feel a cold anger mounting, even hatred. The president and the prime minister cannot reject the left-wing rank and file.”

In the two years since his election, Hollande has seen his popularity rating plummet to as little as 18 percent.

He is blamed above all for failing to keep a promise to reverse the trend of rising unemployment. Cuts and tax hikes to bring down debt in line with EU rules, and even modest pro-business reforms, have sparked anger from former supporters who fear an erosion of job security and threat to cherished rights like the famed 35-hour maximum work week.

The ‘co-president’

Spanish-born Valls is a tough-talking former interior minister. He was a rival to Hollande in seeking the party leadership in 2009, but later served in the president’s election campaign team.

Under the French system, the prime minister usually plays Robin to the president’s Batman, but the Parisian media have taken to calling Valls the “co-president.” His personal popularity ratings tower above Hollande’s, standing at 56 percent according to a May 17 poll in the weekly Journal Du Dimanche.

Reacting to Le Pen’s victory, Valls acknowledged France was going through an “identity crisis” but vowed he wasn’t going to abandon the rigor needed to improve the country’s economy.

“I’m not going to lie to the French people,” he told RTL television. “I’m not going to say that we don’t have to make efforts, that we don’t have to cut the deficit and cut the debt that is strangling our country.”

From the right of the party, Valls is often compared to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

There is speculation that Valls could take advantage of the low point in Socialist fortunes to turn the party around as Blair and other “modernizers” transformed the British Labor Party in the 1990s, after it was repeatedly humiliated in contests with Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Blair, however, had the luxury of years of opposition to build “New Labor.” Valls, on the other hand, has to work on changing the party while he struggles to pull the country out of an economic morass and fight off the challenge of Le Pen.

Blair was also helped by a widespread realization within his party that traditional leftist policies had alienated voters, yet many in France are seeking answers in old-style protectionist and state-intervention policies which Le Pen has hijacked from the left.

France’s center-right is hardly in much better shape than the Socialists.

The leader of the main conservative opposition UMP party Jean-François Cope was forced to step down on Tuesday amid the fallout of his defeat by Le Pen and a scandal over party funding linked to former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s failed 2012 re-election campaign.

Divided and demoralized, France’s mainstream politicians have three years to find a way to thwart a Le Pen bid for the presidency in 2017.

This article, by Paul Ames, originally appeared at GlobalPost.

More from GlobalPost…

Jun 1, 2014
Mary Oso

Business roundup: Kabobs branching out, offering food deliveries by bicycle

SALISBURY — Kabobs Mobile Food Service, downtown Salisbury’s first food truck, has ventured beyond the city center and now offers bicycle deliveries.

Monday through Friday, Kabobs will deliver lunch to anyone within 1 mile of the truck. Delivery may not be available if raining, and the wait time may vary. But typically, lunch will be delivered within 20 minutes of placing an order. Kabobs accepts cash and credit cards.

Call 704-754-1577 for delivery.

The new location schedule is:

• Tuesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Corner of Bank and Main streets

• Wednesday 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Auto House on Jake Alexander Boulevard

• Thursday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Across from Novant Rowan emergency department

• Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Corner of Lee and Kerr streets

Late nights on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 p.m.-3 a.m. in downtown Salisbury.

Bayada Home Health Care honors

SALISBURY — Bayada Home Health Care recently presented nine employees with Heroes on the Home Front and Life Saver awards.

Bayada honors employees who have met or exceeded the core values of compassion, excellence and reliability. The staff who were recognized at the ceremony are April Davis, Tangela Selvey, Ruth Morgan, Cheryl Kearns, Mirela Begic, Sherry Hutchins, Jennifer Royce, Melissa Miller and Rossana Aviles. Bayada Home Health Care provides nursing and assisted care services for people of all ages. For more information call 704-797-8000.

Veterans home event

SALISBURY — The N.C. State Veterans Home in Salisbury hosted an annual Memorial Day observance Thursday, honoring the nation’s armed forces and fallen heroes. 

Featured guests were the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard  presenting a gun salute, along with the Pleasant Garden Singers. Retired Sgt. Maj. Kris Boardman spoke about his time serving the country and the ultimate sacrifice made by those who have served so Americans can maintain their lifestyle.

After the ceremony the residents and some family members enjoyed a Memorial Day cookout.

Coffee Perks at Kannapolis church

Susan Donaldson, director of Senior Services for Cabarrus County Senior Center, will be the guest speaker at this month’s Coffee Perks from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Bethpage Presbyterian Church, 6020 Mooresville Road, Kannapolis.

Donaldson will discuss the activities available for seniors in the county at the Senior Center as well as the various parks in the county. 

Comfort Keepers In Home Care hosts the educational session and provides refreshments. RSVP to 704-640-5152, or 704-630-0370,

Free doughnuts Friday

Dunkin’ Donuts will celebrate National Donut Day on Friday, June 6, by offering a free doughnut with the purchase of any beverage. 

Dunkin’ Donuts also unveiled its new Blueberry Cobbler Donut, which is available starting Monday, June 2.

Businesses recognized for safety

The N.C. Department of Labor honored area employers and employees at the agency’s annual safety awards banquet in Charlotte on Friday.

“It’s really an honor for me to travel throughout the state and recognize these employers who are making a commitment to their employees’ safety and health,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said. “These employers are helping to make North Carolina workplaces some of the safest in the country.”

The awards honor outstanding on-the-job safety achievements of each company during 2013.

The event is co-sponsored by the N.C. Department of Labor and the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina.

Companies must have been free of fatal accidents at the site for which the award is given to be eligible. The gold award criteria are based on a DART rate that is at least 50 percent below the statewide rate for its industry. The rate includes cases of days away from work, restricted activity or job transfer. The silver award is based only on cases with days away from work. 

Silver Awards

First year

Choate Construction Co.

Turner Construction, North Carolina Research Campus

Second Consecutive Year

Piedmont Natural Gas, Salisbury Resource Center

Third Consecutive Year

Wayne Brothers Inc.

Delhaize’s third official resigns

Delhaize Group, parent company of Salisbury-based Food Lion, has announced that Dirk Van den Berghe will resign from his role as CEO of the supermarket retailer’s Belgium and Luxembourg division effective July 31.

Van den Berge will be the third high-level executive to leave Delhaize since Frans Muller was appointed CEO in September. Roland Smith, who served as CEO of Salisbury-based Delhaize America, left when Muller was appointed. Europe CEO Stéfan Descheemaeker resigned a month later.

Van den Berge said he has a new job outside the company.

“I want to thank Dirk for his significant contributions to Delhaize Group and wish him well in his future endeavors. Our operations in Belgium and Luxembourg have a dedicated and capable management team that is well-equipped to address the challenges we face and to build on opportunities we have to improve our business,” Muller said in a statement.

Food Lion has a new president, Beth Newlands Campbell, who reports directly to Muller.

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May 31, 2014
Mary Oso

Job Safety Concerns May Permit Post-FMLA Medical Exams

Law360, New York (May 30, 2014, 10:56 AM ET) — A California appellate court recently held that, where evidence suggests an employee’s medical condition may affect his or her ability to perform a job safely, the employee may be required to undergo a fitness for duty evaluation upon returning to work following leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The court held that such an evaluation can be required even when the employee already has submitted a doctor’s certification approving his or her return to work. The decision may give employers latitude to seek a…

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