PotashCorp’s second round of temporary layoffs unusual, says prof

PotashCorp of Saskatchewan announced another round of temporary layoffs this week to workers at its three largest mines, leaving them in a stressful limbo of hope for future paycheques and fear they will never be back on the job, an expert says, reported The Canadian Press March 17.

The Saskatoon-based fertilizer producer first laid off workers in January at its Saskatchewan plants in Rocanville, Lanigan and Allan, although the majority of workers, about 600 of 940, were kept on to help manage the sites. The eight-week layoff period expired Sunday, and the next day employees returned to work to be hit with a second round of temporary layoff notices. Another potash company, Agrium, made a similar move this month.

It’s an unusual practice, said Ronald Burke, professor emeritus in organizational behaviour and industrial relations with the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

“You typically find a first round of layoffs and they’re gone forever, a second round of layoffs and they’re gone forever,” Burke said Tuesday. “There’s some good news in a sense that employees are able to get back to work and make a little more income, but the bad news is they never know what’s going to happen.”

Potash Corp spokesman Bill Johnson said employees will be back on the job for between two to four weeks before the layoffs take effect again.

Burke said temporary layoffs may be a worthwhile initiative for companies wanting to cover bets of needing workers in the near future. But the prospect must be realistic. “You certainly would hurt yourself as a company by saying there’s a chance we’ll hire you back. And if they never do, that’s not going to help you in terms of reputation.”

Burke said it may be smart for PotashCorp employees to look for other jobs. “It seems to me putting all your eggs in a potash basket on the hope that at some point they may hire me back may be risky.”

Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto speaks at York

Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto and Consul General Américo Dyott Fontenelle will be special guests at a York University seminar today [March 18] by bestselling author Laurentino Gomes on his book 1808: How a Mad Queen, a Fearful Prince and a Corrupt Court Deceived Portugal and Brazil Forever, wrote the Toronto Star March 18. Gomes’s book won the Brazilian equivalent of the Giller Prize.

Q: How did you get the idea for 1808?

A: 1808 was born in the newsroom of Veja, the leading weekly news magazine in Brazil, where I worked for more than 15 years as a reporter and editor. In 1997, I was the executive editor of the magazine and my director asked me to prepare a series of specials on Brazilian history. After some months of working, the plan was cancelled, but I decided to go ahead by myself. I published the book in 2007, on the eve of the royal family’s arrival for the 200th-anniversary celebrations.

Q: Why do you think it has been so popular in Brazil and Portugal?

A: For me, this stands as a powerful indication that people in Brazil, as well in Portugal, are looking into the past in search for some explanations to the present. This is very good news. Our virtues as well as our problems have deep roots in the past.

I would risk saying that the year 1808 worked as our national DNA. Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese in 1500, but was invented, or created, as a country only in 1808 with the Portuguese royal family’s arrival in Rio de Janeiro. This was our nation-building event, much as 1867 was for Canada.

Setting financial goals not just for the older set, says York grad

Like most young people, Adam Goodman didn’t give much thought to his financial future, wrote insidetoronto.com March 9. "For the first 26 years of my life I didn’t consider my finances,” said the Yonge Street and Finch Avenue resident. “I graduated in the dot.com boom and I thought money would always be coming in. I was spending everything I earned.”

A graduate of York University’s Schulich School of Business, Goodman (MBA ’06) was raking in the dough and spending his hard-earned money on frivolous things such as DVDs, Starbucks coffee and multiple cars. “I had a savings account but nothing of substance went in there,” Goodman, 29, said. “It did occur to me to save but I never understood why I had to do it or do it before I hit 30.”

It wasn’t until a conversation he had about four years ago with a younger business school classmate did Goodman drastically change his spending habits. “She was two years younger than me and had saved over $50,000,” he said. “I thought wow, I have $100. That one small conversation did it for me.” For the next two years, Goodman read books and met with financial professionals to figure out where he went wrong and what he should be planning for. “I had to set financial goals and make a budget,” he said. “I had to understand where the money was going. The first time I made a budget it was really easy. I noticed a change instantaneously. I shouldn’t be spending all the money I’m making if I want to get out of my mom’s basement.”

Two years ago Goodman, a telecommunications consultant, decided to share his newfound knowledge with other young adults and penned Following The Goods: Financial Management for the Young and Ambitious.

“Older people were telling me, under 30, what to do," Goodman said. "It didn’t always resonate with me. It was a different generation telling me what to do. There are a ton of books out there on this subject matter, but few are written for young people by young people.” 

Osgoode grad blazed a trail for women in law

Adopted as a baby and raised as an only child, Alison Youngman (LLB ’84, LLM ’99) created a family out of friends and colleagues, wrote The Globe and Mail March 18 in an obituary. Known as the maestro of multi-tasking, she was a high-profile lawyer, an indefatigable volunteer for breast cancer research, a director of the International Women’s Foundation, a mentor for other women and a devoted mother. In naming her a woman of distinction in 2004, the YWCA of Toronto lauded her for breaking “new ground for women in the legal profession” and for being “an influential and inspiring role model.”

“She was bigger than life in absolutely everything she did,” said friend and broadcaster Ann Medina.

Alison grew up south of London, finished school, worked as an au pair one summer in France and took French courses at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1972, she joined Stikeman Elliott LLP, an elite legal firm in Montreal.

Youngman soon worked her way up to a paralegal, while she also took night courses toward a BA in political science and economics. Early on, she caught the attention of founding partner Fraser Elliott, a canny businessman who had an appreciation for clever and hard-working staff, no matter their salary range or status. After he moved his practice to Toronto, and she had joined the mid-1970s exodus from Montreal to Toronto, they again worked together in the Toronto offices of Stikeman Elliott, where she soon became head of the paralegal department.

With Elliott’s encouragement, she entered York’s Osgoode Hall Law School as a mature student in 1981. While she was in law school, Youngman met and married businessman Peter Reineck. Their first child, Christopher, was born in 1984 the same year that. Youngman graduated from law school. She went back to work when her baby was three months old.

Youngman died at her Toronto home after a four-month battle with lung cancer March 8.