Temporary Workers in Calgary – Rights and Obligations

Temporary Workers in Calgary – Rights and Obligations

Without Temporary Workers, many Alberta businesses would not have been able to meet the demand for their products or services and would have stopped operating. Even now that the economy has worsened, many of the positions that now have temporary workers still need these because they can not get local people to occupy them.

Despite their value to the economy of our province, temporary workers sometimes fall into situations of exploitation by the employer or the employment agency. I will focus on the role played by recruitment or recruitment agencies.

Temporary workers are vulnerable to exploitation because of the temporary status of their work permits and because they do not know their rights well in Canada.

In addition, as many workers want to stay permanently in Canada, they are willing to endure abuse just because they believe that if they complain they will not be able to get residency. Therefore, temporary workers are not only vulnerable but also lack the ability or motivation to defend themselves.

To understand how this situation is generated, one must understand the role played by the other two actors in the temporary worker system: one of them is the employer and the other is the employment agency.

Under the law, the employer must take care that the hiring procedure is in accordance with Alberta regulations and immigration. Unfortunately, many of the employers are not experts in these regulations and then go to the help of employment agencies that know how to process the papers and how to recruit people.

In effect, the agencies are a type of guardians of information, which gives them a lot of power and responsibility.

You have to be fair, and the truth is that agencies usually follow the rules and even help the workers. Their services are very useful for companies that desperately need people and give people in other countries the opportunity to work in Canada. The problem is when these agencies violate the law and manipulate the workers, and in these cases the worker takes the loss.

The agencies to which I refer use a variety of tactics and lies to manipulate workers who in and of themselves know little about the law. They do it to be able to make illegal collections and swindle people. Next I will discuss the most common tactics.

The first and best known is the illusion of permanent residence. The agencies lie or deliberately omit certain details so that the workers will be delighted with the possibility of staying, making them think that just by working in Canada the residence is guaranteed, and so they agree to pay thousands of dollars for the work permit. The truth is that the chances of obtaining residency are very few.

For example, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program for unskilled workers limits the number of industries that can nominate their workers to only five. In addition, the worker can not apply without first being nominated by the employer. There are other ways to apply, but they also have many restrictions, especially for unskilled workers.

Another illegal charge goes into effect when a worker wishes to resign before the end of his contract. They can charge between $ 2,000 or $ 6500, which limits the worker because he can not forbid him to resign even when he is in a bad work situation or when he gets something better or with greater possibilities for residency. It is worth repeating that this collection is illegal and no worker should pay, but should report to the agency.

A very effective tactic is the threat of deportation. With the use of said threat the worker is forced to work overtime without receiving payment, forced to do heavy work even when he is injured, coerced to pay more than the bill for the house, and silenced before putting a complaint. Workers can not be deported by any agency or employer, even if they lose their job or are fired! No agency or employer has a special relationship with immigration. The only ones who can deport someone are Citizenship and Immigration Canada agents, and only if they have a valid reason to do so, and neither the loss of employment nor the filing of a claim is a reason to be deported.

There have been cases in which the agency forces the worker to get on the plane. This is equivalent to a kidnapping and you have the right to call the police and defend yourself as best you can.

Another common abuse is the absurd payment for inadequate housing. There are agencies that refuse to process paperwork without first signing a rental contract for 6 months and when they arrive in Calgary they realize that they have to share a house with 8 or 10 people, and end up paying approximately $ 500 for a shared room.

Finally, some agencies intimidate workers in explicit and not-so-explicit ways. The most common tactic is that of deportation, but there are workers who also fear for their families. In some cases, the contracts they have to sign say that the agency has the support of the government of the worker’s home country and that what they do is legal in Alberta. There are even occasions when representatives of these agencies visit workers in their homes or jobs. It sounds like something out of a movie about the mafia, but it’s worth remembering that this happens mostly because of the lack of knowledge about the rights of the worker. My advice is this: If you are a temporary worker, file a complaint with the TFW Advisory Office  (10242 105 St NW, Edmonton, AB), they will guide you to the appropriate government agencies such as Employment Standards and Service Alberta. If you are not sure of your rights or want advice, find out who can guide you and take you along the right path. In cases of emergency (such as kidnapping) call the police at 911. All your information is strictly confidential. If you are a resident or citizen, help to report these unlawful acts before the Advisory Office or the police. Do not believe these agencies, there are people who can help you, and the sooner you defend yourself, the better.

Cesar Agudelo

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 En el directorio de NEGOCIOS hay una lista de Abogados de Inmigración



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