Today’s Toronto Star reports a major victory for workers' rights. In response to years of grassroots organizing, the Ontario government will move to hold client companies using temp agencies responsible for workplace injuries.
Under current law, the temp agency takes responsibility (including increased worker compensation board premiums) if a temp worker gets hurt, not the company where the injury took place. Such a loophole has created a huge financial incentive for employers to hire temp agency workers to perform dangerous jobs and not provide proper health and safety training and protections. For example, at one company, Fiera Foods, 3 temp agency workers died on the job since 1999. A Toronto Star investigation revealed last year that temp agency workers placed in warehouses and factories were twice as likely to get hurt than their non-temp counterparts. Temporary agency workers have been organizing to speak out and expose these huge gaps in protections for years. This change will put the responsibility for injuries where it belongs -- the company using temp agency workers.
Now we need to put a stop to perma-temping. This has been a key demand in our Fight for $15 & Fairness.
The equal pay for equal work law that our communities won last Fall (coming into effect on April 1, 2018) and the measures announced today, will go a long way in curbing the unchecked growth of temp agency industry. The new equal pay measures, for example, will stop agencies from reaching into the pockets of workers by requiring that temp agency workers get paid the same hourly wage as their directly hired co-workers who do comparable work. But more needs to be done.
Together, we need to make sure that temporary agency jobs are truly temporary.
Last year, bakery giant Fiera Foods used temp workers to staff 70 percent of its operations. We cannot allow for companies to fill permanent positions with temp workers, sometimes years on end, without providing any decent wages, benefits and job security. The experiences of countless brave agency workers who've spoken out demonstrate that employers must be prevented from using temp workers as a strategy to increase profits by keeping workers precarious. Here is what we still need:
- Companies should not be allowed to hire more than 20% of their workforce through temporary staffing agencies.
- Temp agency workers should be converted to direct employees of the client company after 3 months on an assignment. The client company and temp agency must be required to provide just cause, if, at the end of the assignment, another worker is hired to do the work previously done by the temp agency worker.
- Temp agency and the client company should be held jointly liable for ALL employment rights of temp workers – for example, personal emergency leave and misclassification of workers
Our victories to date prove that by mobilizing across Ontario we can improve working conditions. We need your help to fight on! The temporary staffing agency lobby (including groups like ACSESS, Adecco and Randstad) has been a key backer in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce campaign to oppose a $15 minimum wage and fairness. These new measures will cut directly into temp agency profits, and the industry will do everything in its power to stop these changes.
We are building a fighting fund to spread the word about our new rights, organize workshops in neighbourhoods, hand out lawn signs and grow the reach (and muscle) of our movement. Will you contribute? Please click here to make a donation. Every little bit helps.
By making a donation, coming to a local event or publicly calling out bad bosses such as Tim Hortons, your participation makes the growth of this decent work movement possible. Thanks to your energy and commitment, we know that we will win $15 and Fairness for ALL workers, including for temp agency workers.