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Report/Press release

Immigrant workers protest against "sweatshop" boss

Date

2009-11-19

Authors

UFCWCanada

Abstract

A group of new Canadian workers came together with UFCW Canada activists in Toronto on November 19 to draw attention to what they describe as the callous and abusive actions of their employer, Lincare Limited.

Series title

UFCW Canada Human Rights Media and News

Responsible institution

UFCW Canada

Full text

Toronto - November 19, 2009 - A group of new Canadian workers came together with UFCW Canada activists in Toronto on November 19 to draw attention to what they describe as the callous and abusive actions of their employer, Lincare Limited. Lincare, a Toronto commercial laundry facility that holds contracts with numerous GTA hotel chains, has been subjecting its over one hundred employees to working conditions akin to a sweatshop, according to workers at Lincare. The workers, many who are new immigrants, allege they regularly fail to get paid, and face dangerous, life-threatening working conditions.

Last week the company fired six workers who organized a union drive with UFCW Canada.

"Working in Lincare is like working in a sweatshop," states Parvathy Thamboo, one of the workers recently fired from the Lincare laundry after spearheading the union drive. She had worked at Lincare for more than five years, where she says, "the working conditions are very dangerous."

"There is no safety equipment and the machines don't have proper safety guards. Many of us have been seriously injured on the job. Some women have had their hair caught in machines, other have injured their limbs after being stuck in between heavy equipment," recounts Thamboo.
Safety is one issue. Getting paid is another.
"Lincare routinely issues cheques that bounce," explains Kumanan Thurairajah, a nine-year veteran at Lincare who was also recently fired for being involved in the union drive. "The company owes most of us workers thousands of dollars in back-pay."

"It is outrageous that workers at a company in our backyard can be subjected to these kinds of sweatshop conditions”, says Kevin Shimmin, a UFCW Canada national representative and organizer.

"Many of the workers at Lincare are new immigrants who came here for a better way of life — not to be exploited and treated as second class citizens.

OMNI-TV - November 19, 2009
Lincare supplies services to a number of major hotel properties and chains in the GTA including Marriot, Best Western, Novotel, the Westin Prince, and the Fairmont Royal York.

A union certification vote for the prospective Lincare unit is scheduled to be administered by the Ontario Labour Relations Board on Monday, November 23, 2009.

Links

Economic sectors

Sales and service occupations - general

Content types

Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness and Employers, agencies and their representatives

Regulation domains

Labour standards, Health and safety at work, and Determination fair wages and labour shortage

Geographical focuses

Ontario

Languages

French and English