Leave my job alone..

Posted by Analyse at 5:10 PM

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The world had changed and so is the old continent – Europe. From Europe de 15, it counts 25 members at present, with Turkey readying itself to be welcomed by the group. Its status though, presents like a floating big question mark which creates indifference vis-à-vis the European populace.

After Spain has voted Yes to European Constitution, France will be next in line by the end of May. But just before affronting this incomprehensible constitution, another issue has been dominating the headlines and of course, the pause-café conversations this past weeks – the Bolkestein Directive. It translates to service liberalisation inside the EU. The essence of it, if I were to dissect my entourage’s different views, is to create a job/manpower market inter-Europe to compete with the rest of the world and eventually prevent today’s rampant delocalisation, well, to at least keep the jobs inside Europe.

Is this really the best solution?

Ok, let me give you an economic perspective from a non-economist :) - MOI! Those were the days when the manufacturers dictate or impose the best product to their customers. Now, the golden rule is ‘the customer is always right’. Million bucks are allocated every year to understand what the client wants (thus the conception of a new product or new functionality to an existing product), to incite the customers to consume the said product (marketing) and finally, to make the product accessible to its target market (distribution). With the stiff and growing global competition, the client is confronted with different choices or solutions to only one demand, it’s for him to pick the best product which best responds to his need, budget and taste. Now as a customer, aren’t we satisfied to buy a 50€ DVD labelled Made in Asia rather than exactly the same product which is Made in France but costs thrice the price? Come on, be honest.

Now, what would this French DVD manufacturer do if he sees his sales trend go down? How would he keep his products on display inside the supermarkets and specialty stores? Either he sets higher quality and lower manufacturing cost targets to the detriment of his employees’ work conditions or opt for the radical solution – delocalisation.

Let’s do a recap, you were happy as a consumer right? What would you feel as an employee? Yeah, this is a sad fact of globalization. The world has changed, now, we have to cope up with it.

So what does this situation show? Well, it’s a concrete example of jobs flying to Asia. Now, could you blame these Euros if they want to keep the few remaining jobs inside their territory for themselves?

In fact, the directive proposes that every European citizen could freely work anywhere in Europe but would carry its country’s regime. This would mean a French employee could work in Poland and would have the same benefits and social charges as in France, and vice versa. I have heard different views on this topic which sounds more of a yelling insecurity to me, an uncertainty to what future awaits for them.

Well, all the people around me would surely vote NON on this directive. Personally, the way I see things now and if only I could cast my vote, I’ll surely vote NON.

Headache at Work

Posted by Analyse at 5:22 PM

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Since our target this year is for our new products to reach our market at the soonest time possible, the higher management decided to lighten up the work load of our R&D colleagues so they could focus more on R, as in Research. The D, the Development will be slowly but surely be transferred to Engineering. Well, this is a good point as we could see probable future problems and could immediately create an action plan. But the negative point is that, this is another work load for us, and since we, the Engineering Dept are not the supposed-to-be drivers of such project, we don’t have the final word and the communication path is all the more complicated now.

I’m conducting a feasibility plan in our pilot plant (reminds me of my college days) since two weeks now and this afternoon, I finally cracked up! How could a simple feasibility plan be as complicated for them? Well, sure we have loads of product tests but I did an impeccable planning so my operators won’t be lost, as they say here, it’s nickel chrome – but they were lost nevertheless. Well, now, don’t accuse me of language barrier, I speak French as I speak Zambal, no boasting!

The problem is, they don’t talk about organisational problems between them so I have to settle each problem one by one. And then, at the end of the chain, problems still persist! Hay naku, another problem is that, everybody thinks that they’re doing the right thing. And if you try to correct them, it’s as if you’re putting their competence in question, hello? Mga highblood tong mga taong to. Pano ko kaya sila dedeskartehan na di sila maooffend? Tapos feeling pa nila, me kinakampihan ako. Hay naku, ang hirap talagang ihandle minsan ng mga oldies (their age bracket ranges from 45 to retirable age). Hope tomorrow, they will do it the right way.

The Mess!

Posted by Analyse at 12:55 PM

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I arrived at home last Tuesday with all the drawers opened, all our clothes on the floor, all the papers messed up in all the corners of the house and our window and terrace door forced-opened. They took my laptop, our numeric camera, my jewelleries, and some dollars. They also broke my printer. The policemen didn't find any trace of fingerprints or whatever.

Now, the question is, do they really have to put all those mess up? My, they don't have to dig around the house to take what they have taken! Now, I have job till this weekend to put back our house in order! Grrr!

*These little bastards took my dollars but had the kindness to leave me my Pesoses and Bahts.

Tax Me Not!

Posted by Analyse at 3:35 PM

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Every French household has surely got that inevitable black plastic envelope in their mailbox early this week, which, if you don’t pay much attention, could easily be mistaken as publicités (advertising magazines). I automatically junked it in the yellow bin last year thinking it was one of those weekly dose of publicité again - inspite of the big ‘Pas de Pub, SVP’ on our mailbox. Thanks goodness we could declare it by internet. This piece of technology really does wonders.

Since it will be my first ever tax declaration, I guess it’s just normal to know where my hard-earned money goes. And so I learned:

1. To reduce the public deficit - this year's deficit is estimated at ~15%. One budget allocation which most nationalistic Frenchies could rant about is the budget for EU aide. Let's take a classic example: agriculture. A farmer from East Europe got a financial aid from EU and bought a top-of-the-class tractor, saw his productivity growing, and sold potatoes in France. Logically, a french buyer will purchase the less expensive potato (from East Europe) rather than the quality-guaranteed French potatoes. Buy French! - ah, if you've got a tight budget, what would you do?

2. To support the growth and employment - Well, this is a good objective. I just hope they could stop those companies from packing their baggages and install somewhere else.

3. To act for social justice - Among others, the government promises to improve the buying power of the French population. They already started by lowering the prices of basic commodities...hmm, this is kinda delicate and should be balanced. It shouldn't push the industries to produce outside to be able to sell at lower prices in France.

4. To ensure the financing of different priorities - On top of the list is RESEARCH. Two thumbs up! This step would ensure long-term solution, profit-generating activity, work for the population, and competitiveness vis-à-vis the international community. Isn't that great?

So where in the world do they get their budget to finance all these?

In fact, the biggest source of government income is the mighty VAT which represents ~42% of the total income. And why not, they tax 19.6% at a normal rate - the fifth highest in Europe - and 5.5% at a reduced rate.

Here’s Europe’s VAT ranking:

1. Sweden, Hungary and Denmark at 25%
2. Poland and Finland at 22%
3. Ireland and Belgium at 21%
4. Slovenia, Italy and Austria at 20%
5. France at 19.6%

And who would resist, everything is impeccable and inviting to encourage higher consumption, thus bloating the VAT fund. Tourism alone gets a good share of tax collection! I haven’t even talked about cigarettes…

The second biggest source is – hold your breath – tax on revenue (18%)! Surprised? Nope, not really. Now, take a plunge on these numbers and feel the weight of each percentage.

less than 4,334€ = 0%
4,335€ - 8,524€ = 6.83%
8,525€ - 15,004€ = 19.14%
15,005€ - 24,294€ = 28.26%
24,295€ - 39,529€ = 37.38%
39,530€ - 48,747€ = 42.62%
more than 48 747€ = 48.09%

No effect? Then try this: tax calculator

Now, here’s the lighter side, you get 20€ incentive if you declare it by internet, and what more is that, you get a longer deadline. I guess younger generations will opt for this solution, but not the older ones. They would rather do it the traditional way rather than ‘publish’ their bank account numbers on the net (even if the site promises security!)

Nouveauté? Audiovisual Tax will be equally declared on this formulaire. Yes, they pay to have a glimpse of what is happening in France and around the world. But hey, I’m wondering how much percentage of the population really pays this tax. Hehe, there’s no way out now, you French magouilleurs!

Another nouveauté? The fiscal rights for those who are bonded by PACS (or legal partners) are now aligned as to married couples (before, we had to wait 3 long years before we could have a common tax declaration (we are on our 2nd year)– that is to prevent fake marriages). Yehey! That would mean one year tax savings!

Most of the French population will surely disagree with me, but in all honesty, I'm generally satisfied with what the government does with my money. I'm worry-free! I don't have to worry if I get sick, if I get laid off, if I give birth, if I retire, not even for my future children's education and health. Pourvu que ça dure! (Let's hope it lasts!). These frenchies just don't realize the luck that they have. As Maxime Le Forestier wanted to convey in one of his songs:

Est-ce que les gens naissent égaux en droits

A l'endroit où ils naissent

Que les gens naissent pareils ou pas

On choisit pas ses parents, on choisit pas sa famille
On choisit pas non plus les trottoirs de Manille
De Paris ou d'Alger pour apprendre à marcher
Etre né quelque part Etre né quelque part
Pour celui qui est né, c'est toujours un hasard

Are people born with equal rights
where they are born?
Are they born similar or not?

We don't choose our parents or our family.
We don't choose either the pavements of Manila,
Paris or Algeria to learn how to walk.
To be born somewhere. To be born somewhere.
For those who are born, it is always a fate/chance.

Hotel Scams

Posted by Analyse at 5:37 PM

Thursday, March 10, 2005

If you think your safe in a 5-star hotel in Makati, then think twice. An email has been sent to me by a friend, who, herself, was also a victim of this scam in one of our so-called first class hotels in Makati. Read this:

Subject: Shangri-La Hotel Incident: please read

My daughter and I departed from San Francisco Intl. Airport on January 14. 2005 and arrived in Manila at 5:15 am, Sunday Jan. 16. 2005. Prior arrangements were made for us to be picked up from the airport by Shangri-La Hotel Makati. Upon arrival, we were met by an unmarked Shangri-La car.

We checked in at 5:50 am. We were assigned Room 2704. Our luggages (4 Pcs) were brought to our room a few minutes later. Since this was a Sunday, we had the day to just rest and visit with some friends. We ordered room service (light breakfast) and got dressed. We left the hotel to attend Sunday Mass at 9:30 am and returned to our hotel room at 4 pm. We were then picked up by relatives from the hotel for dinner at 6:30 pm. We were back at the hotel room at around 9:45 pm.

As soon as we retired to bed, the nightmare began. At approximately 10 pm the telephone rang, in the dark, I crawled to answer the phone and on the other line the operator asked me if I knew a certain Abdul something and that there were 7 men wanting to go up to our room. I told her in an emphatic way that I did not want anyone coming up and that I did not know anyone by that name and that I was not expecting anyone that evening. She then told me to call the head of Security (a woman named Lourdes) from my cell phone while she waited on the other line. As soon as I connected to this Lourdes, she said she was a hotel employee connected with the Abu Sayaf and that all of the employees were in this together and it will not do me any good if I attempted to call for help! That they do this to a lot of hotel guests and that they take care of the Makati police, politicians, etc. At this time, fear had set in. She knew my name, and said that we should have been kidnapped earlier but if I just followed everything she ordered me to do, we would not be harmed. At this point, the main thing that occurred in my mind was the recent warnings to travellers especially American citizens to be aware of our surroundings for fear that we may be kidnapped for ransom. She also told me that our room was being monitored by housekeeping and security. There were instances wherein I raised my voice, and she was quick in warning me to calm down or I would get hurt! She also told me that if we attempted to leave the room, they would spray our room. I was basically trapped with this woman using my own cell phone. I was worried for our lives! She asked me how much cash and jewelry we had. She ordered me to go out of the hotel and catch a taxi not from the front of the hotel but to walk out to the street and catch a cab. There was a cab waiting in the corner, we got in, was ordered to go to a 7-11 store, have the cab wait, purchase several thousand pesos of Globe and Smart phone cards. She had me read each and every number and pin number over the phone. We rode the cab again, this time, she ordered us to withdraw some more cash from a 24-hour CitiBank ATM machine. Since I did not remember my pin number, my daughter used her card. We rode the cab again and was ordered to let the driver drive to another city (did not realize how seedy the area was until we got there) to F.B. Harrison, and go to another mini store and order the taxi to leave. A woman by the name of Lisa will pick up the money and phone cards. Upon reaching the mini store, my daughter heard the driver say, do you want me to stay for your security? Taking a chance, I shushed the driver to be quiet. I signalled for him to wait.

We then entered the store, and I asked this Lourdes, where this Lisa is. She then asked me why I told the taxi driver to wait. She obviously knew I had asked the driver to wait because she told me that was their driver! So we went out and told him to leave. While waiting for this Lisa, Lourdes ordered me again to purchase more phone cards, did the same routine of reading off all the numbers and pin numbers. After this process, she ordered us to step out of the store, turn left in a dark alley, and walk until we see this woman Lisa. We were walking but decided to stop because it was getting darker. I demanded where this woman was, so this Lourdes in a sarcastic voice, told me how do you expect to see her if you stopped walking? (They were obviously watching us). Before we handed over the cash, she instructed us to go back to the hotel and wait for her call. Then she ordered me to hand over my ‘Philippine’ cell phone to this woman.

We hailed another cab and returned to the hotel. As we were packing since we wanted to leave the hotel immediately, the phone rang again, and this time she told us the cash was not enough and handed over the phone to their ‘Commandant’. He sounded very scary and demanding. He ordered us to call the front desk and have more phone cards charged to our room and brought up. Once we had the cards, I read all these numbers and pin numbers again and was ordered to flush all these in the toilet. In the meantime, she warned us that if we told anyone about this, they knew our flight schedule and that they would kidnap us. Then she ordered that we open another suitcase to look for cash. Obviously, we did not have any cash. She told us to check out of the hotel before the 5 am shift because this shift could do this to us again. Even without her telling us this, we were so scared, we just wanted to get out of that hotel.

We checked out at 1:03 am and took a cab to go to our relative’s residence at Rockwell Makati.

We were both trembling all the way to our relative’s place. We were both trying to be brave for each other but in reality, we were so traumatized by this event. We consoled each other and thanked God that we are alive. It could have been worse. My daughter was so traumatized that she wanted for us to take the next flight out in the morning, but because I had several important meetings to attend to, she agreed to stay a couple of days. Under the advice of my client, we booked ourselves to return to the States on January 19, 2005, Wednesday instead of the original date of January 21, 2005.

The next day, we mentioned this to our lawyer friend, and he did a little investigation of Shangri-La Hotel, and apparently there were three other victims the same day and all of us were picked up by the Shangri-La Hotel.

We were still so scared of taking the ride to the NAIA Airport, but fortunately, our lawyer friend provided us with top security all the way to our airplane.

Apparently, this modus operandi targets balikbayans and not foreigners. They want money, and they get it. I don’t know if the owners of these big hotels or our Tourism Department are aware of this incident. Maybe not. I did a quick search on the net about a possible exposé or article on this incident and only found this
which doesn’t give any detail at all. Are these kinds of stories taboo in our daily journals?

I just hope my friend will find the courage to tell the story and get over with the trauma this incident had caused her and her family.

What is happening to our country? Where are we going? Why are we, Filipinos, insist on pushing our beloved country into the ditch?

I hate to say this but: Mga kababayan, ingat po tayo sa ating kapwa kababayan.


Posted by Analyse at 3:06 PM

Monday, March 07, 2005

Spring season will officially ray its light on the 20th of March, that’s in two weeks time, and that would mean closet reorganization – thick pullovers and jackets a shelf higher – thinner pullovers and skirts on accessible shelves. I’m actually impatient to see those leaves and flowers sprout up from their dormant season – the glow of the sun as it gently caresses each petal, the birds coming back from their winter hideaway, longer daylight, more people crisscrossing in parks and centre-villles, the world transforming from grey to green and eventually, reopening of the very French terrace cafés. But with the snow endlessly covering the whole of France and the rest of Europe, I guess my thick pullovers will still conquer the lower shelves of my closet.

Never had I considered Dijon as a winter wonderland, but this year, I guess it merits to be nominated! Since December, snows come and go, as if they found a new playground, sometimes they rest, sometimes they don’t. Already in mid-march but snow downfall is still forecasted eventhough they’re not anymore le bienvenu.

Luckily, I succeeded to persuade frenchguy to buy a maison de ville (houses in the city center) rather than a maison de campagne (houses in the outskirts of the city). Roads are well salted (to increase the friction between the road and the tire) and well kept in villes than in the suburbs. Hmm, not really. Dijon had a heavy snow downfall last Friday and inspite of the efficient road maintenance, snow persisted.

As I take the same road itinerary everyday, I don’t really pay attention anymore on road signs or road conditions. I know it by heart. I can even go to work with my eyes closed. I know where the radars, the traffic lights, the policemen, and the schools are, hence I know where to decelerate. I was then in complete surprise (I was actually frightened!) when I glided and almost touched the parked cars as I shifted left to join the next avenue. That was my first ever car-slide! Lesson learned!

Well, enough for me. I already had a good dose of winter this year, but as I am writing this entry, the snow outside still continues to tease me. A big PRINTEMPS is printed on the 20th of my calendar, but the sole indication that it’s really coming is the longer daylight, other than that, everything reminds me of winter.

I survived!

Posted by Analyse at 5:03 PM

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

With the current economic situation, hence the increasing unemployment rate, my entry to the current workforce is really un coup de chance, a rare opportunity I shouldn’t miss. What more is that, my employer weighed out every bit of a detail one should consider in evaluating the position status and the salary for an inhinyero like me. Well done, Madame!

After a year of tête-à-tête work experience with these hard-to-please frenchies, it’s inevitable for me to have a love-and-hate relationship with this 5-days-a-week journey I now consider LIFE.

I once tried to explain to my Mom and Dad how I work à la française and I thought they completely understood. But each time they ask me pertinent questions about my job or just the way I work, I just realize that it’s not at all the case.

So Mom, if you read this, just explain it to Dad. And Dad, if you read this, please be reminded that I’m not anymore working in our beloved Pinas and I don’t need that goddamn pension plan!

So there you go, let me explain myself:

March 1 – today marks the anniversary of my arrival in the busy world, in an industrial plot here in my adoptive country called France. My chronometer restarts. 41 more years to go before retirement.

May 1 – Labor Day. It was also my first day, well, with a permanent contract or what they call CDI here (Contrat à Durée Indéterminée). Ça s’annonce bien! (It starts well!) It was my first day and I was already on holiday.

– yey, as long as I complete 35 hours per week, my quota is accomplished. Whether I work less (which is hardly the case), or I work more (which happens quite often especially when I’ve got an ongoing project) a day, my salary remains the same. Wala po akong OT. But the great thing is that, I’m the master of my time. I could arrive in my office at 9:30am or 7am and nobody cares. Anyways, I’ve got no salary deduction because I was late nor a salary increase because I was early. Fair deal, right?

Faire la Sociale – this was a tough initiation for a neophyte coming from another side of the planet like me. I mean, for those who work in an industry where time is gold and the only conversation you could have with your colleague is when you both are in a meeting. Here, socialization is allowed…and sans moderation!

Pause Café – 9:00, 13:00 (or after lunch), 16:00. I don’t know if they mark these planning on their agenda, but I assure you, they’re punctual. Here is where you could practice the above-mentioned faire la sociale thing. Well, not everybody of course follow this planning religiously, but I assure you, there are some!

Pause Cigarette – this is another thing for the faire la sociale application. When most of my men colleagues are out, surely, they’re on their smoking session!

Vacations – a friend of mine made a sarcastic remark telling me ‘hey, don’t you have but vacations there?’. Yep, in this part of the world, the rule is: We WORK in order to LIVE, not the other way around. Vacation is part of their culture and of course, their budget! Beware when you transact a business with them in July - August or anywhere between December and February, there’s a great chance that they’re on vacation.

Work Stress – beware, it’s contagious! Symptoms: You have sleepless nights. You succeed to sleep but you dream about your job. You have more pimples than before. Your favourite topic is your job. You complain about your job. You try to be organized but you work 12 hours a day or more. You work at home. You talk about work at home. You talk about work with friends.

Reserved Parking – I am entitled to one because my position status allows me to. I haven’t asked for it, I just park wherever is available. And if nothing is available inside the vicinity, I park my car outside at my own risk. My principle dictates me so. Heck, don’t other employees with lower classification deserve the same security?

Taxes and Social Security
– the 22% deduction per month (revenue tax not included – I’ve got exemption for one year), plus the company’s participation which is double my contribution, covers taxes, social charges and social security. The company pays a complementary insurance for me too.

Stock Options - everybody got one here. Who wouldn’t? It’s known to be the best investment ever. Well, if you know how to play.

Work Accident – if you had an accident on your way to work (or vice versa), please be informed that it’s considered as work accident (thus company pays!). Just be sure that the accident happens on your normal route, and not on private accesses (such as universities, hospitals etc to shortcut the trajet).

Endless Negotiations – well, I find this particularly difficult. Everybody has got something to say. It’s kinda tiring and it delays much of our work. People management is certainly a tough job here. If there’s one which stresses me out, this is it!

Well, not bad. I survived!