Applauding the courage of temporary foreign workers who expose abuse,
United Steelworkers launches confidential website and toll-free line to
encourage more workers to tell their stories.
TORONTO, Dec. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - It's not easy for temporary foreign
workers to speak publicly about abuse and intimidation in their
workplaces, but the United Steelworkers (USW) hopes to change that.
The USW has launched a website and toll-free phone number to encourage
workers to confidentially reach out for help.
The website and toll-free number are part of the USW's national
campaign, Give Everyone A Chance for Canada's Future, that advocates
for changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
"The group of temporary foreign workers from the Philippines has shown
remarkable courage in coming forward with very serious allegations
against Tim Hortons in Fernie, B.C.," said Stephen Hunt, USW Western
"Our objective is to help empower more workers to do the same," Hunt
"Members of Steelworkers Local 9346 in Fernie gained the workers'
confidence and have been actively supporting and assisting them," Hunt
"Temporary Foreign Workers face risks by going public with claims
against an employer because they depend on that employer for their
future and well-being. Having the support and assistance of unions
helps these brave workers take the difficult steps towards seeking
The Steelworkers and other unions are publicly supporting the Filipino
workers in B.C., offering advice and helping workers file claims with
the British Columbia Employment Standards Branch.
The Filipino workers claim their employer exploited and intimidated them
and forced them to repay overtime, even driving employees to the bank
and waiting while they cashed cheques to get back the money.
Given the serious nature of these claims, the Steelworkers, other unions
and the B.C. Federation of Labour successfully called on the RCMP to
"This is simply a case of workers in our community stepping up to help
other workers in need," said Alex Hanson, President of Local 9346.
"Steelworkers and the labour movement are showing we're here to help
temporary foreign workers," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for
"As we've seen from media coverage, these workers are vulnerable and
they're scared. With unions behind them, their confidence grows and
they can begin to seek justice," Neumann sad.
"We believe the case at Tim Hortons in Fernie is the tip of the iceberg
and we are ready to help any temporary foreign worker who comes to us
Despite the Harper Conservatives' promise to address abuse through
increased enforcement of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP),
absolutely no employers have been identified as ineligible to
participate in the TFWP.
Yet, the recent allegations of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) in
Fernie are not the first of their kind.
Serious allegations were made last year at another Tim Hortons location
in Dawson Creek, B.C., where TFWs claimed their boss exploited and
discriminated against them. And TFWs at a Denny's Restaurant in B.C.
recently settled a class action with the company after they alleged
they were illegally charged thousands of dollars in recruitment fees
and not paid for overtime.
"The fact that the Fernie case is not unique shows that the Harper
Conservatives are not protecting these vulnerable workers," Hunt said.
"We want temporary foreign workers to know we are here to help."
Workers can share their stories and ask for help confidentially at www.everyoneschance.ca, or by calling 1-888-899-4405.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-434-7907, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director, 604-683-1117, email@example.com
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org