This post will deal mainly with Ontario, though I would imagine similar situations are happening across the country.
In Ontario workers rights are being eroded at an alarming rate, most especially by the huge increase in Temporary Labour placement companies and their use by employers.
Temporary agencies, which require no licence to start up, are flourishing in Ontario where there are now 4,200 such businesses generating $6 billion a year in revenue. Yet Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, brought in 60 years ago to safeguard workers’ basic rights, makes no mention of them
Temporary Agencies often do not provide proper training, do not provide benefits, do not provide the usual workplace protections from firing, and routinely refuse to pay stat holidays.
Now, when employers are caught, the fines range from only $250 to $1,000. While the labour ministry found employers violated employees’ rights in 11,358 claims last year and that almost $37 million in unpaid wages and benefits was owed to those workers, only four companies and two directors were charged.
[stats for 2006]The Star
Even many unionized environments have been forced to accept a certain number of temp workers. So you will have people doing the same work side by side except that person A is making 15-20 dollars an hour and person B is making 9-10 dollars an hour. The difference going to the Temp Agency.
Employers like this rent-a-worker as it absolves them of any need to follow labour law or provide training or benefits. Workers end up with no real skill to shop to permanent employers and an ‘unstable’ work record. As well as living in poverty from the low wages and unpaid holidays. The Christmas period is especially hard. As there are so many stat days and many businesses slow down or close. Resulting in no pay for two or three weeks.
Many who are lucky enough to have “normal” employment do not think this issue concerns them. Yet it does. More and more businesses are turning to this form of employee abuse and more and more workplaces are being staffed with temp workers. Government regulation is still sorely lacking and it is unfair to expect workers who already have so few rights to have to fight and in the process loss what small amount of money they have coming in.
Here is a letter from someone in Temp Agency hell;
I think there is a very real issue that Canadian’s are ignoring and the politicians are loving — Dalton McGuinty especially.
The scourge I’m speaking of is the temping business and its stranglehold it has on available employment, especially in Ontario. We (the workers) are being pimped out to big business…factories..and the temp services are skimming the cream off of the top.
First of all, as a temp the reality of the situation is you have no real rights. No one looks out for your future. There are no benefits. There is no job security or loyalty from company to worker or vice- versa.
Temps have no rights, no security, no benefits, but some factories’ workforces are up to 80 percent temp workers.
The major attraction temping holds for big business is administration costs are nil. The temp service hires and fires. The responsibility for paying Workers’ Comp premiums is taken over by the temp service. Companies not only fall free of being directly responsible for your well being BUT they are also free from paying a responsible fee for their negligence resulting in injury.
Any sort of responsible manpower planning by the company is out the window as they can herd workers in and out the door like cattle. Workers have no hope of obtaining legitimate job skills , as we are all painted with the same brush as ‘temps’. Any sort of skills we have as individuals are lost because business accepts the lowest common denominator as representative of everyone.
Help protect workers rights. Contact your local MPP the Minister of Labour and Dalton McGuinty.
Let them know that this violations of workers rights and dignity are an affront to all Ontarians.
For more information contact Workers Action Centre
The Workers’ Action Centre is a worker-based organization committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment. We want to make sure that workers have a voice at work and are treated with dignity and fairness.
and see these links for background
Ontario Association of Food Banks
As ever the only way to protect workers rights is for all of us who sell our labour to come together and protect one another.