For the first time in 25 years, British Columbia workers have been given a voice to publicly share their experiences with BC’s employment standards law and enforcement. Today, the BC Employment Standards Coalition released a summary of its forthcoming report, “Workers’ Stories of Exploitation & Abuse: Why BC Employment Standards Need to Change”. The report exposes employer violations of BC’s Employment Standards Act, and proposes revisions to the Act to protect unrepresented workers from abuse and exploitation.
Over the past six months, the Coalition held a series of workers’ story forums across Metro Vancouver and Victoria, during which coalition members interviewed workers about their experiences with employment standards violations, issues with enforcement and areas where the Employment Standards Act failed to protect them. The Coalition then analyzed the findings to craft a report to give workers a voice and propose changes to the legislation to improve the minimum employment standards for all BC workers.
The report summary details violation issues that need to be addressed immediately. For example, an overwhelming majority of workers reported “wage theft”, lack of breaks, misclassification of employees as self-employed, violation of employment contracts, improper termination and excessive work hours. The report also raises serious concerns about employers charging fees for temporary foreign workers, failing to keep proper records and denying employees leave and sick days.
The “Workers’ Stories” report illustrates a failure of the BC government to proactively enforce the Employment Standards Act and to encourage workers to submit violation complaints.
“Over the past 15 years, workers have found themselves in increasingly precarious, low-paid and exploitative jobs – a fact that has been widely recognized across Canada,” says David Fairey, Coalition co-chair. “But in BC, the inadequacies of the Employment Standards Act and its enforcement have exacerbated the problem.”
The full “Workers’ Stories” report will be published in June.
The BC Employment Standards Coalition campaigns for decent wages, working conditions, and respect and dignity in the workplace. The Coalition is comprised of individual members, representatives from worker and community legal advocacy organizations, public policy researchers, labour lawyers and volunteer advocates.