Quebec workers say employers must ‘sweeten the deal’ to get them back


For years, Marceline Adkins has worked long hours in restaurants, going from dishwasher to line cook for around $15 an hour.

While she says she had to beg for two weeks off every year, she has seen friends take jobs with both more flexible hours and better pay. Thus, in 2021, she leaves the restaurant business for good to pursue her musical career and her independent work.

To attract workers like her, Adkins says employers need to offer better wages and benefits.

“They just need to sweeten the deal,” she said.

Bars and restaurants reducing their hours to chaos at airports, employers across Quebec are looking for workers. In April 2022, Quebec had the second highest number of vacancies in Canada while having the lowest unemployment rate.

The province has tried to fill the gaps by increasing overseas recruitment, and employers are putting children from the age of 11 work, but the need is still acute.

“When I was younger I thought, ‘I’m young, I don’t have experience, it’s a job’, but over time you still make roughly the same amount of money. , your hours still suck, you “I’m just stuck somewhere,” Adkins said.

Marceline Adkins left the restaurant industry after six years to pursue her music career and freelance. (Submitted by Marceline Adkins)

Adkins isn’t alone in wanting better working conditions.

Matthew Ohayon spent more than two years working his dream job at Bell Media, but quit to work as a bank writer last month.

“One of my priorities that I made clear to my boss after getting a good foundation was that I wanted to be a full-time employee. I need benefits, I want better pay – all the fancy stuff that comes with a full-time job. And that’s never happened to me,” he said.

So he moved elsewhere for a full-time position with higher pay, better hours, and the perks he needed.

“I spend seven and a half hours at my job, then I have 16 hours to do what I want and live how I want. That’s probably the best part,” Ohayon said.

Philippe Rainville, president and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal, said Trudeau Airport is “getting closer and closer to having enough staff,” but there aren’t enough people to meet current demand and it can be difficult to retain employees.

“We have increased salaries, we have bonuses, we have all kinds of retention mechanisms, Rainville told CBC Montreal News at 6 anchor Debra Arbec. “Until the system recovers, it’s going to be difficult.”

“Companies should have seen it coming”

The labor shortage was long overdue, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, professor of human resources management and labor economics. This is mainly due to an aging population.

To restore balance in the workforce, Tremblay said, four demographic groups should be targeted: immigrants, older workers, women and youth.

She said solutions include improving onboarding programs for skilled workers, better government-funded child care, allowing older employees to work from home with shorter hours — and wages and salaries. higher benefits for all.

A man with glasses and a black down jacket smiles in front of trees.
Matthew Ohayon quit his job at Bell Media for better pay and working conditions. (Submitted by Matthew Ohayon)

Tremblay said workers are now able to make demands such as better pay (particularly in the service and hospitality sectors), four-day work weeks, more predictable hours and the ability to to work remotely, rather than having to take any available job.

“Companies should have seen this coming,” Tremblay told Arbec.

“There are a lot of issues. There are schedules, working time, wages, all of that is important. So if people had the option to move, well, they did.”

She predicts that the shortage will last a few years.

As inflation soars, hundreds of thousands of workers in the education, health, transportation, trades, food retail and other sectors will find themselves at the bargaining table when their collective agreements expire.

Workforce mobilization efforts are already on the rise. Some Starbucks Locations and Amazon warehouses organized labor campaigns in Canada and the United States. And already the unionized workers have gone on strike: Ikeathe Montreal Casino, legal aid and the Molson Coors factory in Longueuil to name a few.

As rent, fuel and food costs continue to rise, Adkins says for many workers, settling for less “isn’t worth it.”


Comments are closed.