A major labour story has occurred in Gatineau, Quebec, concerning Wal-Mart.
There's a big discussion about it occurring on one of Canada's most popular blogs, Small Dead Animals.
I read through several of the comments and was really struck by this one:
Here's one I left myself:
IMHO the most interesting comment of all is the first one from "ET".
As I was born & raised in Vancouver I'm very familiar with the socialist leanings of about 40% of British Columbians, but I was not quite prepared for what I encountered in La Belle Provence.
For 18 months, between 2002 - 2004 I wanted a change so I moved to Montreal. Got a funky old apartment in Outremont (not the wealthy part, I assure you). I generally enjoyed myself very much except for a few incidents.
ET's mention of "The Quebec Way" reminded me of one. Running my own little software company, I befriended a fellow from Eastern Europe who had moved there with his wife and young son about a year previous. He had quickly landed work with a hi-tech firm but a few months after I met him he was suddenly laid off.
About the same time one of my clients mentioned that they *may* have a small ($20,000) software development project for me, starting in a few months.
Anyone who has ever been involved in building software knows that it is not a trivial exercise and many things can go wrong. The client was insistent that it be done for that fixed cost. If it took more time, I would have to eat the difference.
I thought of my new found friend and asked if he, who was now unemployed, would be interested in the work if I ended up getting the contract. After all, he had a family support so I thought I could do him a favour of sorts. I wasn't interested in a huge profit on it but clearly wanted to make something (or else why take it on).
After going over the technical & budget details with him, he thought about it for a few days and came back to me with the following proposal:
1. He would only work on it for a fixed price per hour. If he went over in time then I'd still have to pay him the full amount.
2. He wanted $5,000 up front immediately, which was what he'd describe as his "retainer fee". He'd keep this even if I never got the contract.
To say I was flabbergasted would be the understatement of the century. I really had thought that I was doing him a favour but clearly I had encountered The Quebec Way ... and from a new immigrant new less. How quickly many newcomers pick up the habits of the status quo of the society they're moving into.
Needless to say, I never agreed to his terms and ended up doing the work myself. And I never bothered looking for staff in Quebec again. I did hire some, but from elsewhere.