In May, the Toronto Star did a four-part series on precarious work, highlighting some key areas where the law needs to change to better protect workers. One article focused on temp agencies, and how the law does not adequately regulate them or the companies who use them. The story focused on Angel Reyes, a long-time WAC member, who had been working through the same temp agency at the same recycling plant for five years at minimum wage. His co-workers hired directly by the recycling plant got paid more than him for doing the same work. There is no time limit on how long a company can employ a worker through a temp agency, so Angel remained ‘temporary’ even after five years, denying him access to benefits and other entitlements.
Five days after Angel’s story appeared in the Toronto Star, his assignment was ended. He has not received termination pay, nor an adequate explanation for why he was let go, as the temp agency and the recycling plant point the finger at each other. A follow-up article in today’s Toronto Star explains how the laws leave workers like Angel in limbo. As WAC’s Deena Ladd says, “What this system produces is a second class of workers that can just be let go with complete flexibility. And no one cares.”
But workers like Angel, along with the Workers’ Action Centre and dozens of labour and community organizations across the province, know what needs to change and are organizing to make it happen.
The Ontario government’s Changing Workplaces Review (CWR) is reviewing labour laws for the first time in a generation, and is holding public consultations across the province throughout the summer. The first consultation took place in Toronto on Tuesday, and Angel was there to tell his story and demand change. Other WAC members spoke about the need for pay equity for part-time, temporary, and casual workers, and the need for real and proactive enforcement to crack down on employers who break the law. Throughout the day, workers and organizations spoke decisively about exactly how the laws need to change to better protect workers, echoing the recommendations made in the WAC’s recent report, Still Working on the Edge: Building Decent Jobs from the Ground Up. Read a summary of the issues raised at the consultation here.
What can you do?
The government needs to hear from those affected by precarious work, not just during public consultations. Email Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn, or tweet him @OntMinLabour @MPPKevinFlynn. Tell him it’s #time4decentwork in Ontario! Ask your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbours to do the same.
Book a meeting with your local MPP to share your experiences and your concerns, and ask that they organize a community forum on decent work.
Start your own conversation in your community about what decent jobs should look like.Contact us if you need support.
Submit your story to the consultations. Information on how to do this is on our website.
Get involved in the Fight for $15 & Fairness, where labour and community organizations like WAC are coming together to organize for decent work. Download the petition and get your neighbours and friends to sign, or get involved with the campaign in your area.