The Weird Workplace

A collection of unusual and quirky stories from across Canada and the world

The Weird Workplace
Workers in China were made to eat cockroaches if they didn’t reach their sales targets. watchara panyajun/Shutterstock

NEW LOWS IN CHINA

GUIZHO, CHINA — After staff suffered various forms of abuse at a home renovation company in China, three of their managers have been jailed for five to 10 days, according to the BBC. Managers at the firm are said to have made staff drink urine or eat cockroaches if they didn’t reach their sales targets. Videos of workers at the home renovation company being whipped by a belt also circulated online. Other forms of punishment included drinking toilet water or having their heads shaved, according to media reports. The company is also alleged to have failed to pay employees’ salaries for two-and-a-half months. There have been reports of other employers in China following similar methods, with employees forced to crawl on a public road or kiss garbage cans as punishment.

EENSY-WEENSY

OTTAWA — A tiny intruder caused a big scare recently at a government building in Ottawa, leading to the evacuation of 50 federal employees — twice. In June, employees at 2300 St. Laurent Blvd. were sent home for two days after someone spotted a spider in the office, according to the CBC. The building was then fumigated, but in October, another spider was spotted — and caught — so employees were again sent home. The fear? The spider might be the venomous brown recluse spider. An entomologist, however, said the spider was a yellow sac spider, which is also purported to have a necrotic venom, but is not especially harmful to humans. Catherine Scott, an arachnologist and PhD student at the University of Toronto, said the evacuations were an overreaction. “This is totally absurd and a giant waste of money,” she said. “Fumigating the office with chemicals is probably more dangerous to the people working in that office than a spider would have been, even if it had been a brown recluse spider.” Fewer than five of these spiders have ever been recorded in Canada in the last century, she said, and the chance of a being bitten are low.

SLUMBER IN THE SKIES

KANSAS CITY — Talk about falling asleep on the job. A baggage handler in Kansas City managed to “inadvertently fall asleep” in the forward cargo hold of a plane, according to the Huffington Post. The Piedmont Airlines worker was working an American Airlines flight on Oct. 27 when he fell into a slumber on a Boeing 737-800 flying to Chicago. “The flight subsequently took off with the team member in the cargo hold, which was heated and pressurized,” said American Airlines in a statement. The flight landed and the employee was discovered upon arrival to the gate. “Our top priority is ensuring the well-being of the Piedmont employee,” said the airline. “He did not request any medical attention upon arrival in Chicago, and we are grateful that he did not sustain any injuries.” The 27-year-old man reportedly admitted he had consumed “several alcoholic beverages,” according to the Chicago Police Department.

SKILLS GAP IN JAPAN

TOKYO — When Yoshitaka Sakurada was selected as minister in charge of cybersecurity in Japan in October, the 68-year-old politician certainly had plenty of experience in government, having first been elected to parliament in 1996. But his most recent appointment might be a bit of a stretch, judging by comments he made to parliament. Sakurada, who is also in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, admitted he has never used a computer, according to the Associated Press. “I give instructions to my aide and so I don’t punch into a computer myself,” he said. “But I am confident our work is flawless.” Although he’s not expected to have much hands-on responsibility in his role, Sakurada’s comments are said to be an embarrassment for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

PRICEY PERKS IN INDIA

NEW DELHI — Employees at a diamond merchant in India received some impressive rewards recently when they were each presented with a car by their employer. Six hundred workers at Hari Krishna Exporters were given automobiles by Indian manufacturer Maruti Suzuki, with help from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Another 1,000 employees were offered gifts of cash deposits and apartments at a ceremony in November, according to Reuters. It is common for Indians to give each other gifts in the run-up to the Hindu festival Diwali, which was held on Nov. 7 this year. The gifts were part of a program targeting loyal staff to the firm, run by Savji Dholakia. “The aim of this program was to reward employees’ loyalty and dedication,” he said in a Facebook post.

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