A Filipino family and the alleged victims of employee abuse at the Fernie Tim Hortons store are taking action against threats of deportation .
“It’s really hard,” Jona Pineda said.
“It’s okay for me if it’s just me, but I have my family, I have my kids here.”
Alex Hanson, the president of the United Steelworkers (USW) local 9346 said the threat of deportation is the result of a moratorium that was put on the service industry, a moratorium that lasted several months and put a halt to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
“When we saw the moratorium on the food services industry, we knew right away this was the federal governments attempt at splitting the foreign workers and labour groups such as ourselves, trade unions such as ourselves,” he said.
“People in the food services essentially speak up and then they get punished for it by deportation. I think it’s really sad.”
Pineda filed a complaint against former Tim Hortons’ franchise owner Pierre Pellier claiming that he demanded cash payment for any overtime wages she received.
Pineda, along with a group of other temporary foreign workers from the Philippines are set to have their complaints over the alleged discrimination heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
But Hanson said if Pineda were to be deported, she wouldn’t even be to around for the Tribunal.
“How is anybody supposed to complain or get any justice out of the deal?” Hanson asked.
“We’ve seen the whole food services industry in total disarray, where abuse has become a pattern.”
Now, in response to the threat of deportation Pineda and her husband Chris are seeking legal council and are in the process of applying for a temporary resident visa.
Pineda said the application processing time is around six months and they are currently living in Canada on an applied status. She said she hopes she will be able to finish her immigration papers before her family is deported.
“We really wanted to stay here permanently in Canada….because of our kids,” Pineda said.
“We wanted to give them a better future.”
And Hanson and the USW local 9346 have been working with Pineda every step of the way.
“They are our angels,’ Pineda said.
“They’ve been there all throughout, they’ve been helping us. They’re kind of a blessing to us.”