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Newspaper article

Foreign-worker mistreatment triggers probe

Date

2009-10-07

Authors

CBC

Abstract

Manitoba's Department of Labour has opened an investigation into the case of four Filipino workers who say they faced intimidation and broken promises after being recruited to work in Canada.

Newspaper title

CBC News

Full text

Manitoba's Department of Labour has opened an investigation into the case of four Filipino workers who say they faced intimidation and broken promises after being recruited to work in Canada.

A CBC News investigation revealed this week that Glenn Syping, Imelda Campecino, Mercedes Comia and Alan Acar each paid a Niagara Falls, Ont., employment recruiter $3,000 to get to Canada, plus nearly $1,700 each in airfare in July.

They were told their employer — a family that owns Wendy's fast-food restaurants in Regina and Brandon, Man. — would reimburse their travel and health-care insurance costs, but they are still out the fee paid to the recruiting agency.

The workers also had to have the Labour Department recover other money for them, including unpaid labour, holiday pay and overtime.

Under a Manitoba law governing the treatment of temporary foreign workers passed earlier this year, the recruitment fee would be illegal.

But the workers were originally recruited to Saskatchewan, which does not have a law prohibiting such fees. The Ontario recruiter passed them to a Saskatchewan immigration consultant, who set them up with the Wendy's franchisee. The employees were then moved to the Brandon location not long after they started work.

Another of the workers' grievances was that their paycheques were docked to rent a home owned by the franchisee, Jordan Trotter.

When they complained about how they were being treated, they were threatened with the cancellation of their work permits and deportation, they said.

Trotter told CBC News the workers were only brought to Brandon temporarily for training. But the workers said they were asked to sign a lease agreement in Brandon and provide a year's worth of post-dated rent cheques.

Trotter also said he paid the Saskatchewan immigration consultant, Walter Garchinski, a substantial sum of money for his services.

Garchinski, a former employee of the Saskatchewan government's immigration branch, refused to discuss the case, citing confidentiality reasons.

Manitoba Labour Minister Nancy Allan said it's not uncommon for workers to get trapped in schemes concocted by unscrupulous recruiters to bend Manitoba's immigration rules.

"They're trying to get around the rules in Manitoba. So if you're unscrupulous enough, you're going to go to another jurisdiction," Allan said.

Allan said Monday she's spoken with Saskatchewan Labour Minister Rob Norris.

She said Norris is working with Manitoba officials to implement foreign-worker treatment legislation there.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers, Occupations in services - Domestic work, Sales and service occupations - general, Trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations - general, Natural resources, agriculture and related production occupations - general, Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing, and Other

Content types

Policy analysis and Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

Ontario, Manitoba, and Other provinces

Languages

English