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from Photographers' Blog:

Scouring Madrid’s trash for images

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Street cleaners of Madrid went on strike as a measure to stop the dismissal of 1134 workers, about 20% of the staff. Below three Madrid-based photographers discuss their experience covering the strike.

By Susana Vera

Madrileños express their love for their city with the local saying, "From Madrid to heaven, and in heaven a little window from which to see it." For 13 days, though, no one in Madrid seemed to be paying much attention to the sky above their heads, it was the ground they were most concerned about.

For almost a fortnight litter overflowed many of the city’s bins, turning pavements into obstacle courses. Pedestrians watched every step they took, fearful that food waste might make them slip and fall. Drivers competed with garbage bags for parking space for their vehicles. For once, the ever-present weather conversation was replaced by rubbish disgust as the city’s number one small talk topic.

The street cleaners’ strike was a dirty business for Madrid’s residents, but many of them were understanding of the workers’ demands. Citizens grew accustomed to the sight of garbage decomposing outside their doorsteps. Some even benefited from it. Scrap dealers and paper collectors were able to sell many of the discarded items they found amid the trash piled up throughout the city. But the fact that many residents would throw any kind of litter on the ground as opposed to the recycling bins destined for that purpose made for bigger mountains of rubbish taking over the public space. Picketers also contributed to enhancing this gloomy picture by spreading garbage around and setting some trash containers on fire. That worried quite a few merchants, who were afraid of the effect such an unpleasant sight would have on tourists and possible customers.

from Photographers' Blog:

An underground photography mission

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Gaza-Egypt border in the southern Gaza Strip

By Mohammed Salem

It was not easy to get in to the tunnels’ area on the Gaza-Egypt border. I had to make an enormous effort to obtain a permit from the Hamas-run interior ministry because there is a ban on photography in this area for apparent security reasons. Once I had the permit, I headed straight to the area where I was stopped at several police checkpoints before finally getting to one of the smuggling tunnels. It took me a few minutes to take in the area and see the real situation with my own eyes, not as it is described by others. Hundreds of tunnel entrances were covered by tents in an attempt to hide the location and Egyptian army tanks were close by, guarding the border.

One of the tunnel workers, Abu Mohammed, offered to let me see his tunnel. At the entrance, his colleagues were sleeping and having a rest after some hard work while the other shifts were working underground. Abu Mohammed decided to accompany me to help me while I was photographing inside the tunnel. I was surprised and a bit frightened to see a 20 meter-deep hole, and wasn't so happy about going down into the dark. Abu Mohammed encouraged me, saying that you descend on a rope operated by an electric generator, assuring me that the rope was strong enough to carry heavy construction materials. I tied my cameras around my body and the adventure began.

from The Great Debate:

Rebuilding America’s high-wage economy

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Good for President Barack Obama for emphasizing the need to restore America’s middle class. However, the actual proposals in his new summer offensive would not go very far toward that worthy goal.

America is moving, at an accelerating pace, toward an economy with tens of millions of poorly paid service jobs at one end, and a relatively small number of astronomically compensated financial jobs at the other. In between the fast food workers, who demonstrated this week for a living wage, and the hedge fund billionaires is a new creative class heavily based on the Internet. But the web entrepreneurs are too narrow a segment on which to rebuild a broad middle class.

from MacroScope:

The productively disinflationary American worker

Strong productivity may be good for an economy’s long-term growth prospects. But it’s not always great for workers in the near-run, since it literally means firms are squeezing more out of each employee. In reality, rapid productivity growth can make it harder for workers to get new jobs or bargain for raises.

The benefits of operating efficiently are obvious enough: Productive firms will have more money left over to invest, which should lead to more job creation in the future. Except lately, that future seems never to come, giving rise to the somewhat oxymoronic notion of a jobless recovery.

from Photographers' Blog:

Quiet work amidst the reeds

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By Herwig Prammer

The light is soft and warm, yet I am astonished at how cold it is. The thermometer says minus 15 degrees Celsius, but it feels far lower. In the car I did not recognize how strong the wind was blowing from the north.

Ernst Nekowitsch makes thatched roofs from reeds that grow along the shore of Lake Neusiedl, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Vienna, Austria. He tells me to have a look around. I will find his workers out in the reeds, he says.

from Africa News blog:

World Cup Bonus for Workers

SOCCER-WORLD/STADIUMSSoccer City in Johannesburg will be home to the opening and the final of the FIFA World Cup this year. On Monday, the men and women who helped build the stadium were given letters that assured them of two free tickets to the opening match.

120 000 tickets will be distributed to construction, community workers and children as part of a FIFA initiative to make sure that regular South Africans, who would normally not have the opportunity to go watch a World Cup match, can see their soccer heroes in the flesh.

from Commentaries:

Lower Opel costs to help government aid

General Motors' decision to scrap the sale of Opel rests on the carmaker's calculation that the hole in its European unit's finances is not as deep as previously feared.

Governments should welcome the lower demands on taxpayers with open arms. But there is still some horse trading to be done to get everyone on board. 

from India Insight:

Pricol killing: Labour at the receiving end?

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The killing of a manager at a factory in Coimbatore by workers, sparked off by the sacking of dozens of their colleagues, can in no way be condoned, but it raises questions on the state of labour in India in a time of economic pain.

Roy George, a 47-year-old vice president at Pricol, was attacked by workers wielding iron rods after 42 employees were dismissed from a unit of the auto parts maker.

from MediaFile:

Shock! Offices lose productivity to Facebook -study

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We think you saw this one coming: Employers are losing a whopping 1.5 workers per 100 in employee productivity to the social networking phenomenon that is Facebook.

This number was uncovered by the clever folk at Nucleus Research, who surveyed 237 randomly  selected office workers. They discovered that some of you spend more time than you probably should poking, adding and making inane comments on friends' pages.

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