New Minister of Labour, Yasir Naqvi, has an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of thousands of Ontario workers by taking immediate action to address wage theft.
In December 2012, people from across Ontario responded to our call for action for better conditions for workers. Over 12 days, more than 500 messages were sent to the Minister of Labour calling for stronger protections for workers in Ontario.
We’ve already outlined 5 priorities for action. Here is why action is so urgently needed:
Juana: Worked for a cleaning company, she was being paid $9.50 an hour in cash. Although she worked excess hours she was not paid overtime pay. When Juana asked to be paid properly, by cheque with deductions, she was terminated without notice. Juana is fighting for her unpaid wages.
Sam: Worked as a cook in a nursing home. He was paid a lump sum payment for over 80 hours of work per week. Sam was not being paid the minimum wage or any other entitlements under the law. He was told he was an “independent contractor”. Sam is trying to get the money from his former boss who is not returning his calls since he was terminated.
Reza: Works as a cashier at a grocery store. She is being paid $8 per hour and works over 60 hours per week. She cannot speak up about the conditions at work or she will be fired. Reza continues to work in sub-standard conditions with her many co-workers experiencing the same situation.
Angel: Works for a temp agency and earns $10.25 per hour. He has not received any increase in his wages for two years. Meanwhile prices are going up and it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet.
This is wage theft. This is the reality facing many Ontario workers struggling out of the recession. Ontario workers need to see the government take action on creating new decent jobs but just as important, making current jobs decent jobs right now.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has said she doesn’t want to see a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions. Fortunately, there are innovative policy ideas that could go a long way to making sure Ontario workers are protected on the job and get paid for their work
Let’s hope Yasir Naqvi will seize the opportunities available to stop the race to the bottom and take the high road to decent wages and working conditions in Ontario.