Des modifications brusques dans les structures de production posent des problèmes d'allocation et d'utilisation efficaces de la main-d'oeuvre. Cet article présente les résultats d'une recherche effectuée auprès de quelques travailleurs affectés par un licenciement possible. La recherche avait pour objectif de connaître et d'analyser les réactions et attitudes des travailleurs dans une telle circonstance.
In October 1964, a business enterprise operating in Quebec announced an important modernization program which could affect 170 workers.
A Manpower Assessment Agreement was signed by the Manpower Consultative Service, the Quebec Government, the Company and the Union. The signing of this agreement gave birth to a Research Commission whose mission was to carry out studies of the impact of changing manpower requirements on individual workers and the development of ways and means of making the necessary adjustments with the greatest possible regards for the human factor involved.
Our task was to delve into the problems created by the placement and requalification of the workers affected by the re-equipment project.
THE INTERVIEW PHASE
For this purpose, we have interviewed 122 workers, those who were supposed to be laid off. At the time of the interview, nobody knew who was going to be laid off and the fact of being invited to meet the interviewers was not supposed to be constructed as a sign of a possible displacement. That is why we ask hypothetical questions bearing on the following issues :
1—Evaluation of employee's reaction toward a possible layoff;
2—Basic education and special courses ;
3—Occupational history ;
5—Employee's future projects ;
6—Geographic mobility ;
7—Attitudes toward retraining courses ;
8—Particular remarks : age of children, wifes' work, fînancial situation, behavior in the course of the interview, etc.
INTERPRETING THE DATA
We could classify the workers interviewed into two broad categories :
I—Those who could not be very much upset by a possible layoff because they had made up their minds and they had projects which seem realizable in a near future. In our opinion, these people have to face the only problem of finding a job in line with their qualifications.
II—Those who would be affected by a possible layoff because they would have to face one or more of the following difficulties :
1—No experience for the job they envisioned ;
2—A need of formal training ;
3—A need of basic education ;
4—Age : 40 and over ;
5—No idea about the job that can be held besides the one actually held ;
According to those broad categories, 115 cases were analysed. 28 workers fell into the first category and 87 had to face one or more of those difficulties listed in the second category.
ATTITUDES TOWARD RETRAINING
Out of those 87 employees, we observed that about 50 need retraining and can embark on a program. As a matter of fact, 50 employees gave an affirmative answer when they were asked whether they were interested or not in attending courses.
Since we left everybody free to express his interest in one or more branches, we were not surprised to discover that those workers (50) were interested in 26 different specialities. Both branches, welding and mechanics, have attracted nine and seven employees respectively.
REACTIONS TO GEOGRAPHIC MOBILITY
It stands to reason that a high degree of potential mobility facilitates adjustment to technological changes.
One important factor of mobility is the possibility of getting job which presents better or comparable working conditions to the one actually held. Half of the employees would be ready to move anywhere if this possibility turns out to be a reality. For the same reason, 16 workers would be ready to move within a radius of 100 miles. However, 21 employees would move only if they are forced to do so and 18 would not move at all. We also found that people who were married and owners were less mobile that those who were not.
LIMITS OF THIS RESEARCH
We would like to recal that the interviews have been conducted in an hypothetical situation. The data must be construed in this context. This explains the evasive character of the answers obtained. The official announcement of a real layoff would have put the interviewers in a different context. The answers would have been different.
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