BURNABY, BC, July 10, 2014 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) today
welcomed the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal's decision to accept complaints
filed by the union on behalf of a group of temporary foreign workers
(TFWs) employed at a Fernie, B.C., Tim Hortons.
"While it's unfortunate that a failure by our provincial and federal
governments to enforce the law leaves vulnerable foreign workers with
little to no recourse, today's decision affirms there can be a path to
justice no matter where you are from or what your status in our country
is," said Stephen Hunt, USW's Western Canada Director.
Last year Steelworkers in Fernie were approached by a group of TFWs
alleging their employer required them to pay back a portion of their
overtime pay - in cash - even driving employees to the bank and waiting
while they cashed their paycheques.
A USW investigation prompted the union to retain legal counsel and
launch a representative human rights complaint on behalf of the
"Recent changes to the TFW program announced by the federal government
do nothing to free low-wage temporary workers from being tied to one
employer and make no mention of creating a path to citizenship for
them," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.
Despite years of promises by the federal and provincial governments that
they would ensure employers would not exploit vulnerable TFWs, little
to no enforcement has occurred.
Hunt congratulated the temporary foreign workers for their courage in
bringing forward their complaint.
"It's not easy for any worker, union or non-union, Canadian citizen or
permanent resident, to bring forward a complaint against their
employer. It's even harder for a temporary worker whose very presence
in our country is in the hands of the boss," he said.
Hunt praised the efforts of USW Local 9346 and Kootenay labour activists
in assisting these workers.
"In communities across Canada it's often local labour activists who rise
to the challenge of ensuring union and non-union workers receive fair
representation. I'm proud of our local union for taking on this
challenging case and standing in solidarity with temporary workers from
The USW first exposed how the TFW program was used to preclude Canadians
from jobs at HD mining in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., and was the first
organization to offer support to RBC employees who were asked to train
foreign workers taking their jobs. The USW also has assisted temporary
workers complaining of abuse by employers at McDonalds and Subway
franchises in B.C.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-683-1117, 604-754-1174, firstname.lastname@example.org