Grrrr!

Priya sends us this link about a tsunami relief initiative. Go forth and do good!

Okay, so why am I posting twice in one day? This story. It’s about an underpaid single father –Guy Masse– working at Zellers (a Walmart-like chain here in Canada, my American droogies.) The fellow found some chocolates in the store that had been marked for disposal (past the due date or something). So instead he took them home for his kids…. and was fired days before Xmas!

If you’re mad like me, feel free to fire off an agry missive to HBC, the umbrella corporation that owns Zellers.

The story reminds us, not only of corporate heartlessless, but of the tendency for institutions within our society to waste valuable assets, like food, while so many go without. Food banks in Toronto (where the event occurred) are under more stress from overuse than ever before. Meanwhile, food that is a few hours past the due date is not permitted to be used. Of course, this is the result of litigious caution. But there is such a thing as being overly cautious. It’s about time for our society to dial back the litigiousness in favour of reduced waste and increased nutrition. Grocery stores dump tons of unused foods every day. And McDonald’s is known for tossing burgers in the trash after a few minutes under the heating lamp. Meanwhile, the food items in my fridge have been there for weeks! Hey, the mould the merrier.

The news of the fired Zellers employee also reminds us of the importance of organized labour. Sure, in many cases the union phenomenon has become bloated and counterproductive. (My mother, the proud president of the local chapter of her textile union before a disability forced her retirement, used to complain often of having to fight for the jobs of people who clearly didn’t deserve her support: thieves, liars and slack-offs.) Despite these missteps, unions remain important to protect the basic rights of little workers like Guy Masse, whose interests would never be put on the agenda of the HBC board meeting. Do you think such cases are rare? A consulting company has documented the “most unbelievable” workplace events of 2005. Among them:

  • The U.S. National Labour Relations Board refused to strike down a security company’s rule that prohibits employees from getting together away from work. The policy forbids workers from going to lunch together, attending each other’s weddings, or doing anything else they might want to do with each other outside of work.
  • Two Spanish-speaking hair stylists in Chicago claimed in a federal lawsuit that the company they worked for strictly banned the use of Spanish — even when employees were on their breaks. A sign at the establishment read, “Speaking a language other than English is not only disrespectful, it’s also prohibited.”
  • In the U.S., one woman was suspended from her job in a library for spending too much time trying to rescue a trapped squirrel.