Launch of the Temporary Agency Worker Association!

This past December 14th, A group of Temporary Placement Agency Workers raging from undocumented workers, from agency workers in hotels, day laborers working in greenhouses, to factory workers in distribution centres, to other where-house workers, and low wage workers In the health care sector came together to launch the Temporary Agency Worker Association.


The association aims to create a framework to campaign for the labour rights of agency workers. To end the situation of workers who do not even have same basic rights as many other workers. Temporary workers are no longer “temp” but becoming “temporarily” permanent.


Most of these workers are no longer on the margins of the economy, but are central to the functioning of the economy. In most where house work, day-labor in the agricultural sector, food processing, and in the healthcare sector, agency workers are becoming the Norm. In fact, these agencies are part of one of the fast growing industries in Québec; according to Statistics Canada, in 2008 there were approximately 1200 placement agencies across the province, and the industry had an estimated value of $1 billion.


Unfortunately, many immigrants who work for these agencies experience poor working conditions. Beyond the fact that the rights of these are often not respected as those of other Quebec workers, im/migrant workers sometimes do not report labour standard violations because they have concerns about their own status.


Employers are well aware of this fact and use them to avoid the application of even the most basic labor standards let alone decent and fair work conditions. Many workers work beyond the 40 hour work week without over time pay. Many agency workers do not have access to vacation pay, health and safety. Also agency workers have become victims of wage theft, or paid below minimum wage.


The association is aimed at bringing together these non unionized workers, to challenge the individual work place issues, as well as work towards improving working conditions for temporary placement agency workers regardless of their immigration status, through basic solidarity, and uniting agency workers, to build their organization to defend their rights, to fight for better and decent labor standards that protect all agency workers as workers, regardless of the immigration status, and to build services and a community union that meets the real needs of low wage immigrant workers. The group also intends to continue to raise awareness of this issue, in order to pressure the government to take these important steps to respect agency workers’ rights. Also to support migrant justice movements for Regularization of all non-status people.


In October 2011, the Temporary Workers Campaign (which included the Immigrant Workers Centre as well as other Montreal organizations such as Au Bas de L’Echelle), presented a petition to the Minister of Labour stating these demands. In November 2011, the IWC with Dignidad Migrante, formed the Temporary Agency Workers Association, and since that time we’ve been doing our best to support workers and move forward with our demands.


The Workers, during the campaign, called on the Ministry of Labour to implement the following measures:


Regulate the placement agency industry by requiring agencies to obtain a permit that must be renewed each year upon proving their solvency, in order to eliminate the problem of fly-by-night operations. As it stands, some workers lose out on their pay or benefits like employment insurance when precarious agencies suddenly shut down. Some companies have been known to close shop unexpectedly, and then open up again under a different guise in order to shirk their obligations.


Make the placement agency and the company who is contracting out the work jointly responsible for respecting the workers’ rights. Currently, employers contract out agencies so that they can bypass the standards outlined by Quebec’s Labour Standard Commission. We believe they must be held accountable.

For more information about the Temporary Agency Worker Association and to download our leaflets or if you are an temporary agency worker and want to become a member




To support our demands and campaign for changes to Labor Standards in Quebec you can download a copy of the petition at the following=>


If you wish to support financially the worker of the organizing of Temporary agency workers you can support the Immigrant Worker Centre and make a donation at the following

Justice for L’Amour textile workers!


The Struggle Continues: Support Picket with Immigrant Textile workers

Justice for L’Amour textile workers!!!

The Struggle Continues: Support Picket with Immigrant Textile workers ::
Justice for L’Amour textile workers!!!

Monday July 14th, 2008
35 Port-Royal East.
Port-Royal and St. Laurent.
(metro Sauve)or 55 north from metro De castelnau get off at Port-Royal

On Monday July 14th, a group of textile workers once again will go
in front of the Labour relations board to demand justice and respect.
This fight is now in its 10th month in the courts and in the public.
for proper compensation from the apparel company, L’Amour Inc.

As the workers themselves state “we were unceremoniously laid off in
2007” Many of the workers had been working for over 10 years, some of
them had worked there for over 20 years.

During this time, Lamour Inc. has become a very profitable company for its
owners. It goes without saying, that it was principally years of
workers hard work that produced for this company. Lamour Inc. boasts
that it is a leading company in the apparel industry and has operations
in places like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India with over 2500
workers worldwide.
A long-time partner of the retail giant Walmart, it recently broke into
the US market last July, 2007 by taking over, Terramar Sports, a company
based in Tarrytown, New York.

Yet the daily conditions of the workers resembled more and more
conditions from the early 1900’s. The campaign is also to highlight
their daily injustices in the factory.

::Testimony from the L’Amour Workers Committee::

Despite this, many of us suffered horrible working conditions over
the years. One example of this was being locked in during the night
shift. Under these conditions, we were always in danger of being
trapped and burned alive in the case of an industrial fire.

For those of us doing piece work we were not paid when our machines broke
down and we could not produce our quota. Even then, we could not go home

because the doors were locked. Some of us were forced to have our meals at
our stations while we continued to work, which meant that we virtually had
no breaks.

As if this was not bad enough, we felt deceived when a union was set up in

2004 that we believe to be a “pro-management” union to prevent us from
organizing ourselves into a genuine and militant workers’ union that would
have fought for our rights, our jobs and our dignities. After years of
collecting our union dues, we feel this union has not produced positive
results for the workers’ conditions, welfare and job security.

We wish to expose Lamour Inc. as leading nothing in this industry but the
art of exploiting workers. Our demands are simple. We want to be
compensated fairly for the years of loyalty we’ve shown this company. Most
of all, we want our dignity back and call for justice for the dismissed
L’Amour workers!

Again the Lamour workers committee and the Immigrant Workers Centre
is calling for support to show that an injury to one is an injury to

Justice for textile Workers!!

Textile Workers Campaign is endorsed and support by:
-The Immigrant Workers Centre
-Centre for Philippine Concerns
PINAY – Filipino Women’s Organization of Quebec
Solidarity Across Borders
No One Is Illegal

The unbearable temporariness of being

The IWC Experience

From temp agencies to temporary foreign workers, capitalism has renewed its offensive against the working people in an attempt to once again restructure work relations to serve the bottom line.  Tens of workers are arriving at our door each month with complaints varying from unjust dismissals, unpaid overtime, psychological harassment, CSST claims, collective dismissal cases, and unpaid wages. Now their troubles are exacerbated by the temporariness of their employment and status.  The following, mostly immigrant workers’ experiences, are the challenges we face in our day-to-day work.


A group of workers from a factory that produces frames first came forward early this year to complain that they were laid off rather than given preventative leave through CSST.  They were told that there was lack of work, but what raised the alarm bells was the fact that they were a group of 5 women from different departments and different shifts.  All of them were pregnant and showing.  They were called to the office just days after the first among them applied for early paid leave as a preventative measure during her last months of pregnancy.

They fought back, made their complaints and won the right to paid preventative leave and later maternity leave.  But it was a partial victory. They were also made to sign agreements to drop all other complaints including illegal practices and psychological harassment against their employer.  Also in the agreement, they were not to return to work after their maternity leave.

Some of their husbands came along to encourage them and to see what can be done about their own predicament. Pregnant women were not the only targets of restructuring in the company. A pattern was beginning to show where groups of workers were being laid off, temporarily it would seem.  The problem was the workers could not remember any instance where those who were laid-off are being recalled during times of “production boom”.  What they do remember are new sets of workers being hired and later, after the “boom” and the subsequent “bust”, more lay-offs.

The question on everyone’s mind; “Am I next to be replaced by workers with less experience and seniority?”  They doubted very much that the group of workers who were already “temporarily” laid off will come back in six months to file collective dismissal claims if the company does not recall them within six months as the workers were advised to do by the CNT.

A new group from this same company has now come forward.  They were also recently laid-off, again seemingly temporarily.  This time they also received another letter explaining that they should go to a particular “temp agency” if they want to be rehired.

Fortress Westmount

The plight of the workers in a particular Westmount nursing home is not new to us at the IWC.  Last year the unionized employees asked for help, because they felt that their local union president was basically co-opted by the management and was in fact acting in the interest of management rather than the workers.  After trying and failing to set a meeting between the rank and file members of the local union and the rep for the union head office, we decided to go another root.

Finding out that a general assembly to elect new officers of the local was in the works (a big surprise to the majority of the workers since many have not been informed of this through any meetings of the local), they decided to hold meetings of rank and file members instead to field their own candidates and to unite as many workers prior to the official elections.  The IWC helped to facilitate their meetings, showed them how to approach the members in the different shifts without sounding alarm bells and provided them a safe and secure meeting place to discuss their issues and unite on a plan.

To the surprise of the union head office rep, almost all the workers from the different shifts came to cast their votes during the elections.  The result, the removal of the incumbent officers (who were dumbfounded because an overwhelming majority voted against them) with new members into the executive.

Of course there was management intervention prior to the elections, where a candidate for the position of President of the local was pressured into backing out of her candidacy.  The results were far from perfect, but the workers learned an important lesson: the leadership of unions, like anything else has to remain in the hands of the workers if their interests are to be met.  “Get organized!” is not just a battle cry for forming a union, it’s a principle to carry forward even after forming one.

The unionized employees in this Westmount nursing home have once again reached out to us. This time they are poised to strike and hope to garner our expertise in gathering community support.  The issue: a measly %10 raise within a period of 5 years.  For some, this translates to 1 dollar between 2011 to 2016.  Just the rise in public transport fares will surpass this raise in the next year.

The ridiculous offer alone would incite workers to strike but this isn’t the worst of it. Workers who are on-call have a more foreboding story to tell.  Those who refuse a shift for whatever reason are being replaced by temp agency workers.  If this is allowed to happen, it would be the death of the union and ultimately the death of permanent positions and direct hiring.

From the death of permanent positions to the death of permanent status

We have already heard about union busting and the replacement of unionized workers by migrant workers under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Program.  We learned about the issues of the migrant workers under this program.  We jumped through the hoops required by the CNT in filing complaints on behalf of groups of migrants who got into labour related conflicts with their employers.  We know more or less about the exorbitant fees by agencies and employers alike that milk the workers of their expected incomes while they work in Canada.

What we need to learn still is how to organize the workers to demand for conditions which will remove the precariousness of their situation.  All of it tied to the temporary status in Canada. Getting permanent employment is one thing, try demanding for it when you have no permanent status and that status is tied to your employment. Out goes your presumable rights.  Keep quiet or else…

The following is an excerpt from an actual letter to workers who were fed up with their conditions and wanted to end their employment:

“We will need your new work permit before you leave this jobsite [sic]; otherwise it is our responsibility to report to the Canada Border Service Agency…”

“Or else… what?”

A migrant worker from this company who wrote the letter complained on behalf of his co-workers.  After meeting with us and and a local community organization and after receiving a labour rights training, the worker listed their complaints in a letter to the company which included: unpaid overtime and excessive rental payments that were taken out directly from their paychecks by the employer.

The result was an invitation to leave the country and later, after informing his employer that he was transferring to another job, they all received the infamous letter.  It was a lightly veiled threat to stay put or else.

The worker chose “or else” and braved it out.  He found another employer in New Brunswick and began to organize a support group for his fellow migrant workers there.  He also participated in the founding congress of Migrante Canada in Ottawa last November, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations across the country and was elected into the National Council.

For this particular migrant worker “or else” meant getting organized and fighting back.

Stop Gap or Stop “Cap…”?

During a meeting with a group of immigrant workers for the Temp Agency campaign, a worker asked, “why do temp agencies and indirect hiring even exists?”

They answered this in the process of their discussion.  Even as the capitalist enterprises point to the economic crisis as the justification for the measures and “restructuring” that they take, and even as the whole capitalist state point to the same “austerity” measures against the working poor, the workers know that this crisis was not caused by any greed or laziness on their part.

They all agreed that the economic crisis is caused by the same people directly causing their misery at present.  “This crisis they have caused themselves and now they want to put it on the backs of the workers,” says one temp agency worker who came to help the IWC formulate our position paper on the campaign.

As cliché and outdated as the western capitalist world sees this, the age-old Marxist statement still holds true today:

“Workers have nothing to lose but their chains.”


Joey Calugay

CTI-IWC Community Organizer

Press Conference: stop fraudulent Temp agencies

The Government must stop Temporary Workers Agencies and their clients’ fraudulent practices

The day after Radio-Canada’s broadcast of the TV program, “Enquête”, on October 21st 2010, Au bas de l’échelle and the Immigrant Workers Centre denounce the government’s laxity that makes it possible for some agencies to systematically abuse workers who are most vulnerable.

It is obvious, as demonstrated in “Enquête”, that some Temporary Workers Agencies are enterprises of organized fraud. These agencies exploit people that are seeking a means to survive and are not familiar with the labour market and its related laws. Companies that use these agencies are also responsible for that exploitation.

For many years, our organizations have denounced the consequences that result from the absence of regulation of Temporary Workers Agencies and the companies that use them to circumvent labour laws. There are numerous problems including: exploitation, rights violations, exposure to risk of injury, and contracts with abusive clauses. Many reports have been produced; many meetings with labour ministers have been held. There are many good examples of surveillance that have been implemented in different countries as well as in other Canadian provinces. However in Quebec, nothing has been done!

Our demands are:

  • That agencies must obtain an annually renewable licence to operate and that this licence be revoked in the event labour laws are not respected. Agencies functioning without a licence should be closed and subject to penalty.
  • That agency clients be held jointly responsible for any law infractions and reimbursements of sums due to workers they have abused.
  • That workers of Temporary Workers Agencies benefit from the same workplace safety and injury prevention regulations as any other client employee. Statistics demonstrate that workers of Temporary Workers Agencies are, year after year, subject to the highest rates of workplace accidents. Agency workers are all too often used to perform high risk jobs in the workplace.
The conference will be held on October 22nd, 10AM at the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC):
4755 Van Horne Avenue (near Victoria, Plamondon metro), suite 110. Immigrant workers will be there to speak about their experiences with Temporary Workers Agencies.


Joey Calugay,
Immigrant Workers Centre: 514-342-2111

Carole Henry,
Au Bas de l’Échelle: 514-270-7863

Joignez-nous pour l ecoute du documentarie “Enquete”