SEIU Local 2 makes submission to the Ministry of Labour on the implementation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act

Posted by J4J@L2 on November 12, 2019

SEIU Local 2 made a written submission to the Hon. Harry Bains, Minster of Labour, on the implementation of the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act (“TFWPA”) last month. While the organization believes the legislation represents an important step in protecting some of the most vulnerable British Columbians, the overriding message in the submission “is that the sections relating to prohibited practices and enforcement be implemented as soon as possible and that the penalties be strict for individuals and companies that violate the TFWPA.”

SEIU has experience with temporary foreign workers through the Justice for Janitors campaign. SEIU’s Justice for Janitors is a movement of workers that has successfully organized to improve wages, benefits and job security for thousands of janitors across Canada. The janitorial industry, however, continues to be driven by short term contracts where companies compete to displace one another by various cost cutting mechanisms. This competitive bidding structure has put workers, most of whom are immigrants to Canada, in highly precarious positions.

Another side to the precariousness of this industry is the widespread use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program by contract service providers, which is being used to gain a competitive edge over their competition. The Justice for Janitors campaign seeks to address these insecurities by organizing and empowering janitors so they can fight to protect the rights and dignity of all workers and raise standards in the janitorial sector.

Earlier this fall, SEIU helped temporary foreign worker Ravinder Singh file a complaint against consultants Sanjay Ghai and Roger Rai of Regency Immigration Solutions.

Mr. Singh alleges he has been subjected to verbal, financial, and psychological abuse in connection with his employment at Alpine Building Maintenance and is requesting an open work permit so that he “may leave the abusive situation and find other lawful employment in Canada.”

The complaint alleges Alpine takes a cut of the $15,000 in cash Mr. Singh had to pay Regency to secure employment with the cleaning company. Moreover, according to the complaint, Alpine has “threatened to take away [his] work permit” if he refused to work extremely long hours, despite not being paid for all hours worked or receiving overtime pay as required by the Employment Standards Act.

Additionally, the complaint alleges that when the workers wanted to speak to a labour union about the issues they were facing, an Alpine representative threatened to “end” Singh’s and his co-workers’ LMIAs if they didn’t listen to Alpine. According to the complaint, the threats also included the company contacting a gang in Surrey if needed.

A copy of the submission can be read here.