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Ex-workers challenge Lamour

Ex-workers challenge Lamour

Want compensation. Also allege union failed in duties to members

MIKE KING

The Gazette

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lamour Inc., a 55-year-old Montreal clothing manufacturer with 2,500
employees worldwide, is being challenged by about 20 workers from its
local factory who lost their jobs last year.

Claiming they were “unceremoniously laid off” at the end of
September, the group is demanding fair compensation for their years of
service and loyalty to the apparel company.

“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,” the laid-off workers said in a recent statement released
through the Immigrant Workers Centre.

The centre’s lawyer, representing the former Lamour employees, had a
pre-hearing meeting last Monday with the legal counsel for the in-house
union known as the Lamour Textile Workers’ Committee before the
provincial Labour Relations Board, which is to hear the workers’ formal
complaints that the union didn’t carry out its duties to the members.

The hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 16.

The union had planned to argue it’s a labour standards issue rather
than a labour relations issue, pointing to a Commission des normes du
travail ruling that the Lamour workers received sufficient severance.

But commission lawyer Dalia Gesualdi-Secteau said Friday the workers sought and were granted a revision of the decision.

As a result, “we have re-opened the investigation,” she added.

Mostafa Henaway, the centre organizer handling the Lamour case, says
many of the workers claim that their work conditions were sub-standard.

“One of our campaign goals is also to ensure that if sub-standard
conditions did exist as the workers claim, that these conditions are
publicly exposed,” Henaway added.

In their joint statement, the workers spoke of “horrible working
conditions,” such as the plant doors being locked during the night
shift – putting the employees in danger of being trapped and burned
alive if there was an industrial fire.

Other examples included not being paid when workers’ machines broke
down and they couldn’t make quota as well as being forced to have meals
at work stations, which meant the workers virtually had no breaks.

Lorne Lieberman, spokesman for the Lieberman family-run Lamour, wasn’t available for comment.

Henaway, who says about 500 workers have been laid off from Lamour
in Mont-real since 2006, alleged the firm is using replacement staff to
cover for the latest layoffs in the distribution department.

Most of the production has been moved to Lamour’s facilities in China, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

One year ago, it acquired the Terramar Sports Worldwide outdoor performance wearmaker in Port Chester, N.Y.

mking@thegazette.canwest.com

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

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