Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How's the Recession Affecting Your Workplace?

One of the things about blogging is that it affords me the opportunity to tell my story. There are tons of bloggers (and newspaper columnists for that matter) who love to rant on about whatever issue is currently hot...with me being no exception. But it occurred to me that the bloggers and columnists I most enjoy reading are those who offer up a little glimpse into their own personal worlds. In that vein here's a small glimpse into the life of Gordie Canuk.

Right now I'm working for a pharmaceutical company in Toronto, however I'm employed through a temp agency. Last year that same temp agency had me placed at the LCBO warehouse in Whitby and I worked there for over a year. I've spent the majority of my working life in sales and sales management, and just prior to getting divorced I'd embarked on a career as a financial planner. Situation and circumstance however made that a difficult career to get off the ground while going through a marital breakup.

I get to see my kids regularly during the week by picking them up from school and giving them dinner two times a week...on top of having them every other weekend. To me that's part and parcel of being a Dad, I couldn't come to terms with the thought of seeing them just once every two weeks as happens to so many divorced men. But to accommodate that meant some difficult choices, I decided it would be best to work midnights...but there aren't a lot of sales type jobs looking for midnight employees.

I'm fortunate for the moment in that I'm working from 4 or 5 in the morning, til 1 in the afternoon...which allows me to pick up the kids and attend my son's basketball games. Unfortunately the company I'm working at is shutting down its Toronto operations sometime in June. There is another location in Whitby and some employees are transitioning to that site, but many are in limbo, waiting to hear if they'll be retained or not. The head of my department has made it known that he's trying to get everyone placed there, but of course there are no assurances...and with me being on a temp contract I'm not overly optimistic.

It occurred to me that there are likely a lot of employees who are going to be out of work. But nonetheless they're hanging in and working hard...hopeful that they will be offered the opportunity to work at the Whitby location. From a corporate perspective I can understand there being some reticence in telling people, "sorry guys...but come June 1 you're out of work". That would hardly be a moral booster, and would likely kill productivity. All the better to have people frustrated and on edge, working hard and hoping to be one of the lucky ones.

The LCBO is even worse....their facility in Whitby employs temp agency workers by the busload. No benefits, no job security...and shitty wages to boot. Dalton McGuinty can say all he wants about Ontario needing to attract decent paying, long term jobs to this province. But when an Ontario crown corporation exploits the labour market it rings awfully hollow.

For a lot of years the labour market in Ontario (and Canada as a whole) was pretty tight. Employers had to compete to attract and retain employees, and depending on the skill sets involved the competition could be fierce. Now I suspect many employers are loving the current climate, at least in terms of dealing with HR issues. HR...human resources, isn't that a lovely term. I'm just old enough to remember when it was "Personnel", in other words employees were we're resources. Human Resources, Natural know, basic commodities that are meant to be exploited for maximum profit.

Anyone else have a story to tell? Or any suggestions for this blogger who may very well be looking for work come June? Post a comment or if you like tweet CanukGord on Twitter.

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