Now Get Back to Work — Musings on Productivity

I suppose the Air Canada baggage handlers who tossed bags on to the tarmac from a height of 30 feet earlier this year, thought they were being “productive”. Or the Walmart managers, whose policy of locking-in their overnight workers to prevent intruders and employee theft, thought they were being “productive”. And how about the unionized plant workers who “slowed down” once their three-month probationary period was over, thinking that they were preventing future layoffs through reducing productivity?

Is there so little trust and understanding between workers and management that even mentioning the topic of productivity becomes a war cry for entrenched interests? Teachers’ unions threaten job action if asked to assess their members’ competencies or reward excellence with merit pay. Don’t teachers want to improve student outcomes, even as parents? Random workplace drug testing, which is routine in the U.S., is fought tooth and claw by the Toronto Transit union crying that it is an invasion of privacy. Don’t the unions want to protect the public and their own members from unsafe vehicle operators?

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