Droit de seigneur

In the Middle Ages, it is said that the lord of the manor had “Droit de seigneur” described by Wikipedia as a term now popularly used to describe an alleged legal right allowing the lord of an estate to take the virginity of the estate’s virgins.

(Wikipedia now says scholars are disputing whether that right was widespread but there is some evidence it existed.)

Now in the 21st century, whether it is AIG, Merrill Lynch, Nortel or the CBC, there is now the droit de boni, the right to a bonus.

I mean if you watched the AIG hearings, read the wire story on the Nortel bankruptcy bonuses or read the quote from CBC spokesperson Marco Dube in the Toronto Star, the word from the PR spinners, the dinosaur business columnists at the ROB, and the execs themselves, is universal. “Don’t you get it? Executives have an irrevocable right to a bonus” …just like a medieval baron had the right to take the virginity of the peasant girls (and probably the boys too, though history likely covered that up).

Dube told the Star, “We have to recognize that our senior management provides an important role in programming … on all platforms.”

How does the Vice President of Real Estate contribute to programming?

There are a lot fewer people putting on more and more programming, that means that ordinary working stiffs at the CBC and Radio Canada are likely working five times as hard as they did 20 years ago, producing five times as much programming.
(Think of news integration where everyone has to file for all three platforms, radio, TV and online.)

Now they’re going to get rid of the boomers with this so-called “generous” early retirement. They’ll probably lay off the talented young “echo” generation because of lack of seniority. So for Gen X and Gen Y, be careful what you wish for. The devastation won’t create more opportunity. It just means that you’ll be stuck in the office working ten times as hard rather than five times as hard, and the only time you’ll get out of the office is when you stagger to the subway (in Toronto and Montreal) or take a cab home elsewhere, as you’ll be too tired to drive.

After all, PR spinners all say these are performance or productivity bonuses.

The people who really deserve bonuses are those who have been really productive: the ordinary CBC employees. Instead they’re going to go (at a 50 % discount) to more and more managers going to more and more meetings, while everyone else does the work.

But that’s not how the system works at CBC or elsewhere, droit de seigneur, droit de boni rules and everyone else gets screwed.


  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2009 at 10:14 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    How long have management had this entitlement attitude? It is coming to light now…not only are we seeing who has been swimming naked as this economic tide recedes, we are seeing what pigs have had their heads buried in the trough while they complain there is no money to finance the operation. Disgusting.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 9:25 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    What They Make: The Highest-Paid CEOs In Digital Media

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