MONTREAL, Nov. 23, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - Just days before "Black Friday" heralds the beginning of the annual holiday-season consumer-spending spree, Montreal warehouse workers are speaking out against the conditions inside the distribution centres that manage the supply of holiday goods.
On November 23, workers from a variety of warehouses in Montreal will be assembling at the Immigrant Workers Centre to mark the launch of the Commission on Warehouse Work, a research project conducted by the IWC over the past year. The report of the commission is based on extensive research into the economic model of warehouses and logistics, as well as interviews with dozens of workers in warehouses across the city.
Through its research, the IWC has found a business model in the logistics sector that is based on the hyper-exploitation of a workforce largely comprised of migrants.
The official launch of the report will take place at 4 p.m. at the IWC office. Various activities are planned during the launch, including testimonials from workers, workshops on understanding the logistics economy, and musical performances.
"Warehouse work in Montreal is structured so that employees have a minimal capacity for collective organization," says Mostafa Henaway of the Immigrant Workers Centre. Workers are expected to keep up with a grueling pace, not provided safety equipment or training, and are generally paid at or just above minimum wage—as well as a significant minority who report being paid under the legal minimum. Wage theft is common. Gaps in labour law allow for companies and placement agencies to offset responsibility in the common occurrence of workplace accidents.
"I see some accidents. Someone once took a pallet and fell back," says one worker. "This person went after to the hospital." After an accident, "they [the company] don't call," says another worker. "They wait to see if you're ok. It's like a joke. They don't help for nothing." Other workers told the IWC they don't even declare injuries out of fear of being fired.
The Immigrant Workers Centre has tracked the development of the logistics sector over time, and is now sounding the alarm over the conditions inside this growing industry. Over 15,000 workers in the Montreal Metropolitan Area are employed through warehouses, and the expansion of this sector is a priority in government economic planning.
Warehouse workers and the IWC argue that the expansion of this industry must coincide with a dramatic improvement of working conditions.
As Amazon announces its plans to open a new distribution warehouse in Montreal by the holiday season of 2020—the company's first in Quebec—it is time to begin having a conversation about the conditions faced by workers in Montreal warehouses. While the conditions inside Amazon warehouses across the world have generated a significant public conversation about the dire situation of the company's warehouse workers, Amazon is simply the most high-profile example of an industry-wide trend.
Saturday, November 23rd, 4:00 p.m.
Immigrant Workers Centre's office
4755 Avenue Van Horne, Bureau 110
SOURCE Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC)
For further information: Media relations: Mostafa Henaway, (514) 659-0106, [email protected]