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Boss' rant draws job seekers

A Labrador retailer says she has been flooded with calls from job-seekers after she went public with complaints about staff who regularly fail to show up for work at her stores — even when they're paid bonuses to do so.

Glenda Thistle said on any given day, almost half of the 11 people who work at the three convenience stores in Happy Valley-Goose Bay call in sick or simply don't show up.

Excuses have included: "My mom is cooking," "The hockey game is on," and, "I don't want to get in my cold car."

Thistle said she's had enough and she wants everyone to know about it.

"It shows you the lack of work ethic people have," she said in an interview Wednesday, though she stressed her comments don't apply to everyone in the town.

"They don't text, they don't call ... I'm sure there are people out there who are willing to work. I don't want to class them all into the same terrible group."

When some staff failed to show up for work earlier this month, Thistle said she wanted to close one store and move staff around to keep the other two stores open, but the remaining workers refused to make the change.

Even when she offered them rides to work, they balked.

"I don't think that's something, as an employer, we should have to do," said Thistle, who grew up in Labrador and has co-owned the stores for two years.

Before she took over running the stores, Thistle worked as a bank manager in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for 11 years.

After her story made local headlines this week, Thistle said she received seven resumes on Wednesday and "countless" inquiries.

Thistle stressed that she appreciates her customers and staff, who typically earn between $11 an hour and $13.50 an hour. But her views are still making waves in the community, home to about 7,500 people.

"It's not a dream job, but we're fair and we take care of our people."

Thistle also stirred up a heated debate over the employment insurance system by suggesting some unemployed locals have refused to work for her because they prefer to get regular EI benefits, as if they were on vacation.

"I've asked people to come in off the street because I was lacking resumes," she said. "I would ask them if they wanted a job ... and the response was, 'No, I'm on EI. I'm good.' ... And these are not seasonal workers."

Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, said people on EI have the right to refuse work if the job offered doesn't meet certain requirements.

"They could be on EI for lots of different reasons," she said. "Maybe this is not similar work to what they were doing before."

Shortall said that under the existing rules, only 51 per cent of jobless people in the province qualify for benefits, though some rules will change on July 1.

"I think it's a misconception that people don't want to work," she said in an interview. "People do want to work. The changes that were recently made through the (federal) budget are very positive for people in Newfoundland and Labrador."

As well, Shortall said she wasn't surprised to hear it can be difficult finding people in Labrador willing to work at a pay scale just above the minimum wage because the cost of living there is so high.

"People who are eligible for EI and need that program, which they pay into, are able to use that without being judged or stereotyped," said Shortall, whose group represents more than 65,000 workers.

"People are allowed to be on EI ... (And) they don't have to take any job."

Thistle said she went to the local EI office to report people who are abusing the system, but the only response she got was shrugged shoulders.

"There's not enough smack down on the EI system," she said.

She said she had better luck when she employed temporary foreign workers, but she said the existing requirements for participating businesses are too onerous.



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