|Perl Monk, Perl Meditation|
On the other hand, companies in the Netherlands can do things to their employees that are totally unheard of in the USA. I'm currently working for my fifth employer since 1996; I was twice employed by a US company, and now I have my third Dutch employer. Only once I left because I wanted, the other three times all had to do with lay offs due to economic reasons.
Twice I worked for a company that ran out of money, and wasn't able to pay its employees anymore. First it happened while I did a programming job in NYC. I had only worked there for 10 weeks (after waiting 7 months without work or pay before the INS was ready to process my papers and give me a working visa). They ran out of money, and had to let most of the programmers go. They give me the option to work with virtually no pay, and if they would get investors within two months, they would backpay me. I declined and left, but I got paid for all days I worked - we parted without hard feelings.
But not so in the Netherlands! After returning from the USA, I got a job as a sysadmin. After working there for almost six months, there was suddenly an all-employee meeting on the last day of the month (a Friday), where they announced that on the next Monday we would either be bought by another company, or declare bankruptcy. And BTW, the salaries of the previous month weren't paid, and there was no money to pay us. However, we were supposed to come in on Monday and work.  On Monday the announcement was delayed till Tuesday, and on Tuesday it was announced we were being bought by another company. If, when and how the salaries of the previous month were going to be paid wasn't made clear - every few hours there was a different story. Two co-workers and I got ourselves some legal advice; we thought that in the Netherlands, employees are protected. Not so. Apparently, the law in the Netherlands is that if a company claims not to have money to pay salaries, then they don't have to pay. And if you as an employee decide to not work, than that's a refusal to work, and they can even sue you for damages. Your only legal option is to file for bankruptcy - if the company goes bankrupt, you are garanteed to get your money, eventually.
The story ended the next day. After a meeting with the vice-president, who managed to convince most of the people with yet another story on how the salaries were going to be paid and acting very emotionally (she left at one moment, supposedly because she was crying), I called the head of the HR department, and told him I wanted to speak to him right away. I told him I had enough of it, that I no longer wanted to work there, and that I wanted to part with good terms, including a writing I would get my salary of the previous month, or otherwise I would go find myself a lawyer that afternoon and file for bankruptcy (despite the vice-president saying that if we'd go bankrupt, we'd all be out of a job - that impressed most of the people without much experience or education, but for me it was "been there, done that, didn't get the T-shirt, but have resume"). 45 minutes later, I left the building, only coming back once, to return the laptop, phone and car.
What I'm trying to say is that there's a lot more to be said about employee's rights than "US bad, Europe good". I rather lose my job US-style than Europe-style.
Not that I worked that Monday. I was present in the office, but I was on IRC, reading Usenet, playing my MUD, etc. It highly annoyed some of my co-workers who asked me to do things. Not untill I get my salary I replied. "But I promised the customer". Did you already explain them our situation? Which of course they didn't want to do, and that was usually the end of the discussion.