De­fault pay­ment

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL -

Are we en­ter­ing the gen­er­a­tion of the cor­po­rate snowflake, frag­ile and eas­ily harmed? Ear­lier this month the prov­ince’s au­di­tor gen­eral, Terry Pad­don, re­leased his re­port on the sev­er­ance pay and pen­sion handed out to for­mer Nal­cor En­ergy boss Ed Martin.

Martin, you may re­mem­ber, left Nal­cor in a con­fus­ing man­ner; first, it looked like he re­signed. Then, it looked as if the board of direc­tors had fired him so he would be el­i­gi­ble for the sev­er­ance pay­out, which, com­bined with pen­sion pay­outs, topped $6 mil­lion.

Well, Pad­don’s take on the res­ig­na­tion/fir­ing was an in­ter­est­ing one: Pad­don ar­gues that Martin was con­struc­tively dis­missed — in other words, that a se­ries of ac­tions by the gov­ern­ment meant that even if he quit, he was es­sen­tially forced to do so. How?

Well, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment had in­di­cated that it was con­cerned with the per­for­mance of Nal­cor, given the amount of money the prov­ince had in­vested, and the lack of re­turns on that in­vest­ment. Asked if they sup­ported Martin’s work at Nal­cor, gov­ern­ment min­is­ters chose to de­mur.

As Pad­don out­lined it, “Mr. Martin out­lined the con­cerns he felt were hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on his rep­u­ta­tion and on his abil­ity to ef­fec­tively do his job. These in­cluded … the com­ments in the bud­get speech, com­ments from the Pre­mier to the me­dia and, what Mr. Martin de­scribed as, the deaf­en­ing si­lence from the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance in re­sponse to me­dia ques­tions re­gard­ing gov­ern­ment sup­port for Mr. Martin.”

Pad­don found that Martin gave Pre­mier Dwight Ball two choices: ei­ther pub­licly sup­port him, or Martin would leave.

We know how that turned out.

Put up your hand if, some time dur­ing your work­ing life, a boss said that the com­pany wasn’t sat­is­fied with some as­pect of your per­for­mance, or with the per­for­mance of some part of your divi­sion. It’s a func­tion of work­ing life: when things are go­ing badly, su­pe­ri­ors lean on sub­or­di­nates for im­prove­ments.

When that hap­pened, did you im­me­di­ately qual­ify for mil­lions in sev­er­ance? Or did you just miss your chance?

You’re a stu­dent, grilling ham­burg­ers at a fast­food restau­rant, and your man­ager comes over and says, “Those aren’t cooked enough yet.”

Do you throw your spat­ula in air, head for the exit and ex­pect a year’s pay?

Did you tell your su­per­vi­sor that he had a choice: ei­ther he could of­fer his full sup­port for your ham­burger-cook­ing skills, or ne­go­ti­ate a sev­er­ance pack­age? Prob­a­bly not.

Now, more power to Ed Martin in all this: if your em­ployer wants to pay you mil­lions of dol­lars for not work­ing, by all means, feel free to take the money.

But for the rest of us, still work­ing, Pad­don’s ar­gu­ment that a lack of pub­lic sup­port or a dress­ing-down is tan­ta­mount to be­ing fired sounds just a lit­tle pre­cious.

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