False promises for recent immigrants: Study reveals low wage job cycle, workplace rights violations



    VANCOUVER, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - In spite of high education levels, many recent
immigrants to BC find themselves stuck in low wage jobs, with few meaningful
protections in the workplace, according to a new study released by the
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Philippine Women Centre.
    Workplace Rights for Immigrants in BC: The Case of Filipino Workers
reveals that despite a booming BC economy, recent immigrants to the province
often find economic security elusive. They frequently work in unsafe
conditions with little training or access to information about their rights.
The study also finds that enforcement of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) is
effectively non-existent. None of the study's interviewees had made use of the
English-only "self-help kit" (the only way to report violations to the
Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services), despite experiencing ESA
violations.
    "The provincial government's rollback of employment standards in 2002
means that many basic employment rights now exist only as 'paper-rights,'
particularly for recent immigrants," says Habiba Zaman, SFU professor and
co-author of the report.
    "If no one has informed you of your rights and no one is actively
enforcing them, how can you enjoy the protections that are supposed to exist
for all workers in BC?" continues Zaman.
    "Highly educated immigrants are arriving in Canada with the promise of
good employment," says Cecilia Diocson, co-author of the report and executive
director of the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada. "Instead,
they are experiencing a severe transition penalty in the form of low-paying
jobs, often with inadequate protections. This is a cycle that stretches into
unsatisfactory employment for years and can eventually result in long-term
economic hardship."

    
    Based on the report's findings and consultation with immigrant-serving
organizations, the study makes extensive policy recommendations, including:

    -   Eliminate the $6 first-job wage, and increase the minimum wage to
        $10 per hour.

    -   Institute proactive monitoring teams who would randomly investigate
        workplaces for employment standards and WorkSafe violations. Increase
        penalties for violations.

    -   Eliminate the "self-help kit" and allow workers to bring complaints
        about workplace violations directly to the Employment Standards
        Branch. Also, fund a community-based, non-profit system, which would
        provide assistance, including advocacy, to workers who believe their
        rights have been violated.

    -   Substantially increase public education of the ESA through
        information sessions, translation into appropriate languages, and
        extensive distribution. Restore the requirement that rights be posted
        at workplaces.

    Workplace Rights for Immigrants in BC: The Case of Filipino Workers, by
Habiba Zaman, Cecilia Diocson and Rebecca Scott is available at 
www.policyalternatives.ca

    Multilingual versions of this release are available at
    www.policyalternatives.ca.

    Call Terra Poirier at 604-801-5121 x229 to arrange interviews with the
following spokespeople:

    -   Habiba Zaman, report co-author, Associate Professor of Women's
        Studies, SFU

    -   Cecilia Diocson, report co-author, Executive Director of the National
        Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada

    -   Leah Diana, Vice-Chairperson, Philippine Women Centre of BC (PWC)

    -   Charan Gill, CEO, Progressive Intercultural Community Services
        Society (PICS)

    -   Sherman Chan, Director of Settlement Services, MOSAIC
    

    The study was produced as part of the Economic Security Project, a joint
research initiative of the CCPA and Simon Fraser University, funded primarily
by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). This
study also received a grant from the Vancouver Foundation, which significantly
facilitated the research process.





For further information:

For further information: Call Terra Poirier at (604) 801-5121 x229 to
arrange interviews

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Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC)

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