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