Employee happiness is up in the air

Employment strife seems to be the current hallmark of Air Canada.  If it isn’t the attendants it’s the pilots or the mechanics.  The Federal Ministry of Labour seems to be Air Canada’s best friend currently keeping the airline operating and therefore all of us in the air.  I’m not ungrateful to the Minister of Labour for stepping in, but I know as do you, that this doesn’t really resolve anything.  There are grievances on both sides and those differences need to be addressed or the public and the efficiency of the airline will suffer.

I’ve been reminded of our days in Hamilton where two huge steel producers operate.  Stelco is unionized and it wasn’t uncommon in those days for their to be labour strife and following from that a strike.  Next door was Dofasco, without a union their motto was: “our product is steel, our strength is people”.  No strikes at Dafasco.  Whenever Stelco had a labour settlement Dofasco would pass the same wage on to it’s workers plus a nickel.

That wasn’t Dafasco’s only strategy – they had a community choir, a pipe band, sponsored hockey tournaments,  held remarkable parties for their employees and their families and seemed to develop a culture that kept the need for a union at bay.

So next week I get on another Air Canada plane and I’ll be wondering – hasn’t Air Canada learned anything from West Jet’s development?  Rather than have the Minister of Labour intervene perhaps it might be better to take a look at the structure of West Jet.  Just a thought.

By the way Dafasco remains a solid corporate citizen – Stelco was bought by US Steel.

From Dafasco’s website:

This corporate culture is known as the Dofasco Way, and it has been the driving force in employee relations since the company was founded in 1912.
ArcelorMittal Dofasco was the first Canadian company to introduce profit sharing to motivate the workforce and have employees benefit from the company’s success. In addition, ArcelorMittal Dofasco also operates a 100-acre park in Stoney Creek, Ontario, with facilities for staff recreation, education and meetings.
Employee incentives and investments in people are giving ArcelorMittal Dofasco a significant edge in a more aggressive and hotly competitive steel industry. Our focus is firmly fixed on innovation and measurable performance. 
Attrition is very low, and productivity has increased 50 per cent since 1990, which is about twice the rate of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Our employees feel they have a stake in the company and something to gain in preserving and expanding the Dofasco Way. 
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