I am a trained printer. Last week, I started a new job in my field. However, the machinery used at this shop was of a different type than I was used to. Now, there was supposed to be training for this job, but the “trainer” didn’t have time for me. If he did show me anything, it was often wrong. He was afraid that if he trained me too well, I’d have his job and he’d be under me, or terminated. He couldn’t have that.
Unfortunately, this is how it works in many places in Quebec. If they train you too well, they lose. Unfortunately they know that all too well. As a result, they do everything they can to make sure you don’t supercede them. I was fired only a week into my new job for “making too many mistakes.”
Photo by Boris Slavov
It was only on my last day that I found out that this company, like many others, uses these nasty little papers called “error sheets.” Employees are required to fill them out every time a mistake is made, especially if it costs the company. I saw the ones they filled out for me. The trainer put my initials next to every mistake HE made and naturally I was responsible for. Never mind that I wasn’t on shift yet and therefore couldn’t defend myself.
The machines I was working with also had a nasty tendency of breaking down and I noticed my name being put down as the one responsible for breaking it. If I did break it, (and it’s possible) could it be because I wasn’t properly trained on it?
What I just described is known in Quebec as the “Quebecor model” because of the labour policies utilized at that firm. The Quebecor model applies at many print shops throughout Quebec and North America. It is also used in many other industries.
Many companies use this model in tough economic times particularly. While companies started to use it in the 1950s, it really only took off in the 1980s. Now, in an era of globalization, it is used around the world in factories, warehouses and even sales and marketing.
Granted, this system does theoretically have its advantages. If you’re good at what you do, theoretically you gain. If you’re the best at it, you get promoted very well. In fact, this model can look very good on paper. Unfortunately, human nature will not let it be practical. There will always be jealousy and people who are constantly threatened will defend themselves first.
The problem is that new, unfamiliar people are more threatening than people who’ve been there longer. Consequently, new people are often given the worst machines to learn on, the most troublesome systems to work with and the most problematic or apathetic trainers. After all, why should we hire you to do a job that we can have completely produced in China for a third of what we’re paying you, let alone the rest of your team?
Competition should never be a factor inside the factory, but unfortunately for those of us who aren’t super-people, it very often is. They only keep the biased best, especially if they have the seniority to back themselves up.
Also, not everybody acts professional in a factory or large warehouse. The laws of binge and purge also apply, often to people’s dismay. If the union requires 100 hours of work before they’ll protect you, 99% of the new workers will be laid off or fired by the end of the 99th.
Back to my story: I even had to buy a car to get to this job, and now I need to figure out how I’m going to pay for it. Everyone who should have work for me uses the very weak excuse that the economy is bad and the jobs have been shipped overseas. That doesn’t help me.