TAWA – Temporary Agency Workers Association
The Temporary Agency Workers Association: Mission and Objectives
We aim to create a framework of reflection and promotion of labour rights, as well as work towards improving working conditions for temporary placement agency workers regardless of their immigration status
– Outreach, raise consciousness, mobilize and help organize workers
– Identify, discuss and resolve problems at the workplace
– Educate about labour rights (workshops)
– Raise awareness about agency workers’ situation among unions, employers and anyone having contact with them
– Ensure and encourage participation and inclusion of workers at every level of the association
– Foster a sense of belonging
Who We Are
For im/migrants in Québec, finding work is a priority. However, they often have to deal with a number of barriers to employment, including language, non-recognition of accreditation, lack of social networks, and discrimination. Many people turn to temporary placement agencies because this kind of work is readily available.
On the other hand, employers are increasingly looking to placement agencies for workers, as it is cheaper and involves much less responsibility than hiring permanent staff. In fact, these agencies are part of one of the fast growing industries in Québec; according to Statistics Canada, in 2008 there were approximately 1200 placement agencies across the province, and the industry had an estimated value of $1 billion.
Unfortunately, many immigrants who work for these agencies experience poor working conditions. Beyond the fact that the rights of these are often not respected as those of other Quebec workers, im/migrant workers sometimes do not report labour standard violations because they are not aware of their rights, or because they have concerns about their own status.
In 2010, the Immigrant Workers Centre of Montreal launched the Temporary Agency Workers Campaign with the goal of providing support for immigrants who work in these agencies, as well as lobbying the government for better working conditions.
The Workers, during the campaign, called on the Ministry of Labour to implement the following measures:
1) Regulate the placement agency industry by requiring agencies to obtain a permit that must be renewed each year upon proving their solvency, in order to eliminate the problem of fly-by-night operations. As it stands, some workers lose out on their pay or benefits like employment insurance when precarious agencies suddenly shut down. Some companies have been known to close shop unexpectedly, and then open up again under a different guise in order to shirk their obligations.
2) Make the placement agency and the company who is contracting out the work jointly responsible for respecting the workers’ rights. Currently, employers contract out agencies so that they can bypass the standards outlined by Quebec’s Labour Standard Commission. We believe they must be held accountable.
In October 2011, the Temporary Workers Campaign (which included the Immigrant Workers Centre as well as other Montreal organizations such as Au Bas de L’Echelle), presented a petition to the Minister of Labour stating these demands. In November 2011, the IWC with Dignidad Migrante formed the Temporary Agency Workers Association, and since that time we’ve been doing our best to support workers and move forward with our demands. The group also intends to continue to raise awareness of this issue, in order to pressure the government to take these important steps to respect agency workers’ rights.
Are You a Temp Worker? If so, Know Your Rights!
All agency workers have labour rights under the Labour Standards Commission of Quebec (often referred to by its French acronym CNT). Even if you are paid in cash, or if you’re on social assistance, and regardless of your status, your labour rights apply! The Agency Workers Association defends the rights of both individual agency workers or entire workplaces that employ agency workers.
All workers have the right to minimum wage which is $10,35 an hour, and time and half after 40 hours of work in a week. You have the right to be paid in a timely fashion, and to a record of employment (ROE).
Finally, if you have not been paid for your work, or you cannot locate your agency, you have the right to file a complaint and get your wages returned- even if you were paid in cash.
Join the Agency Workers Association to fight for your stolen wages, and basic labour rights!
A Few Interesting Facts about Temp Work
-Do you work for a larger agency which pays you on a payroll? Your rights are protected by the Labour Standards Commission of Quebec..
-Do you know that the “Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases” (CSST) obliges employers to pay an insurance premium for all of their workers?
-Do you know that you automatically have the right to Income Replacement Indemnities, equivalent to 90% of your earnings, if you become incapable of working following an accident at work, until you have healed?
-Do you know that you have the right to return to work after an accident or a workplace-related sickness?
-Do you know you have certain rights if you’ve been working for two years straight at the same place? A worker can file for unjust dismissal after being let go after 2 years of work for the same company or agency. You need to be able to prove you’ve worked for one or the other continually.
-Do you know who is responsible for paying you your vacation pay? To make sure you get the right amount of vacation pay, exercise your rights by making sure it is based on the time you have been with the agency and not the parent company.
For more info, you can find the Labour Standards booklet at http://www.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/pdf/publications/c_0149a.pdf
Why Should You Become a Member of the Temp Agency Workers Association?
If you are an agency worker, you can be part of a group that understands your situation and can pressure your employer and the government through force of numbers. You can also receive appropriate services such as legal aid, resources guide books, workshops on labour standards and the Labour Standards Commission of Quebec, the list of good and bad agencies, and so on. Moreover, regardless of your status, you have rights and the Association can help them prevail.
We have regular meetings, potluck dinners, events and actions. It’s a great way to get involved and meet other workers, share information, and make new contacts and friends.
We also welcome other concerned folks to join in and help fight for agency workers’ rights.
If you have any questions, or want to know when our next meeting is, you can email us,drop by the office, or give us a call:
Immigrant Workers Centre
4755 Van Horne, office # 110
Montreal, QC, Canada