Rally for temporary foreign workers

An investigation has been launched in response to serious allegations of theft and fraud against employees

Organization representatives and citizens united during a rally on Sunday

The power outage on Sunday afternoon did not dim the spark of support that continued to ignite spirits during a rally supporting temporary foreign workers on Sunday, December 15.

The East Kootenay Labour Council (EKLC), in conjunction with Steelworkers Local 9346 and Operating Engineers Local 115, held a Tim Hortons worker support rally for the community in response to allegations that the owner of the Fernie Tim Hortons made employees hired under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program return their overtime to him and pay for their paper work processing that the employer is required to pay.

The rally featured guest speaker Mable Elmore, Vancouver Kensington MLA.

Elmore was there to show her support, solidarity and concern for temporary foreign workers.

“When we go back in session, I will be pressing the provincial government (about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program),” said Elmore. “We also need to press the federal government.”

“The RCMP are investigating,” said Irene Lanzinger from the B.C. Federation of Labour. “Theft of wages is not an issue for the Employee Standards Branch; that’s criminal.”

“We are fighting for our rights and respect, and praying for the people who have hurt us, that they will be enlightened,” said Lordes Butalid from the Filipino Canadian Association of the East Kootenay.

Elkford resident Faye Hubbard came to the rally to show her support. She came to Canada from the Philippines 20 years ago.  At the age of 21 she arrived with $40 in her pocket but knowing she had a job as a nanny made it an adventure. She had a good employer but not all of her friends working on a temporary worker permit could say the same.

“Even if you don’t like what’s on your plate, you have to eat it in order to survive, especially in a cold climate,” said Hubbard. “It takes a lot of courage and bravery to speak up.”

Hubbard took every chance she could to educate herself taking courses and now works at a school in Elkford.

Update:The RCMP confirmed on Dec. 11 that they are investigating the Fernie Tim Hortons.

“With regards to the Fernie Tim Horton’s situation, I can confirm that a file has been opened but as this is an ongoing investigation, I am unable to provide any details,” said Elk Valley RCMP Sgt. Will Thien.

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair called on the RCMP on Monday, Dec. 9 to launch an investigation into Tim Hortons in light of serious allegations of theft and fraud committed against employees who are Temporary Foreign Workers.

Sinclair said these allegations go well beyond infractions covered by B.C.’s Employment Standards Act, and if true, likely constitute serious criminal offenses.

Richard Pepito filed a complaint with B.C. Employment Standards Branch against Fernie Tim Hortons. Pepito and his girlfriend, Heidi Kibanoff were hired in 2009 under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFW) by Pierre Pelletier, owner of the Fernie Tim Hortons franchise. Pepito’s case is going before an adjudicator on Feb. 13, 2014.

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