Last year when we occupied Premier Ford’s office to stop temp worker deaths, it sent a clear message. Our occupation forced the Premier to break his silence over the 5th temp agency worker death at Fiera Foods, and exposed government inaction. Ontario’s temp agency workers deserve to make it home safely! Help us pressure the Ford government to finally implement life-saving legislation, and let’s spread information so workers can defend their rights at work!
On the day of our occupation, Ford had 8 community and labour leaders arrested, rather than signing Section 83(4) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Email the Premier now to demand urgent action. This crucial legislation, when implemented, will make companies like Fiera Foods financially responsible under WSIB for the injuries and deaths of temp agency workers. Without it, bad bosses like Fiera will continue hiring temp workers for the most dangerous jobs, because they can count on being shielded from WSIB costs when these workers get hurt.
The loopholes in our labour laws are failing Ontario’s 800,000 temporary workers and their families. While we organize to bring in better protections, we need to also support temp agency workers to defend their rights inside their workplaces right now.
Here are 3 rights every temp agency worker should know. Pass them on!
1. Both the agency and the client company are responsible for providing safe working conditions. But if you do get hurt, report it right away!
You have the right to know about health and safety hazards in your workplace. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), your supervisor is supposed to give you safety training as well as information about potential dangers and the equipment, clothing or procedures necessary to protect yourself. To find out what this means in your work situation, please call the Workers’ Action Centre. Should a workplace accident take place, report it right away to your supervisor and to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Please know that it is illegal for your boss to tell you not to report a workplace injury or illness to WSIB! If this happens to you, write down what happened, what your boss said, and give us a call.
2. If the temp agency does not pay your wages, then the client company is responsible for the money you are owed.
If the agency fails to pay your wages, overtime pay, public holiday pay or vacation pay*, then you can demand the money from the client company where you were assigned to work. To make it easier for you to recover your stolen wages, make sure to write down all the information you can about your temp agency and the client company, including names and job titles, work and home addresses of the employer, phone numbers, and license plate numbers.
*If you are not receiving your vacation pay with each paycheque, make sure you ask for it after an assignment has ended or at the end of the year. Sometimes agencies only pay when a worker asks for it.
3. If you are fired or laid off by the agency, you should get termination pay or notice.
Here are 3 situations you may want to look out for. First, if you have an assignment that is longer than 3 months but it is suddenly cut short, you should get either 1 week’s notice in writing or 1 week’s worth of pay in lieu of notice. Second, if you have not had an assignment for 13 weeks or more, even though you’ve been available to work for the agency, then you may be entitled to termination pay or notice. Finally, if you have seven days of no work or no income, you are on lay-off and might be able to qualify for support from EI (Employment Insurance).
These are our rights, and workers can take action to make sure they are respected! If your agency is not respecting your rights, please call our Workers’ Rights Information Phone Line at 416-531-0778 (or toll-free at 1-855-531-0778). Whether you are a temp agency worker or not, we need you to join us in pressuring the Ford government to protect workers’ lives. Changing labour laws for the better is hard, but it is possible – we’ve done it before!