Labour Standards Act Reform (2002)
In 2002, the IWC, along with numerous other organizations in Quebec, campaigned to reform the Labour Standards Act. The Act is particularly important for immigrant workers: because most immigrant workers are not unionized, the Act is one of very few resources immigrant workers have against abusive and exploitative employers. The IWC pushed particularly hard for domestic workers to be covered under the Act, as well for information about the Act to be widely available. This campaign had several major victories, but the reformed Act still contains considerable inadequacies– particularly with respect to protecting workers in precarious and irregular jobs.
GILDAN ++ (2003)
In the spring of 2003, three Montreal factories employing immigrant workers closed their doors after their workers unionized. One of these companies, Gildan Activewear— currently the largest producer of blank tshirts worldwide— was already the target of a campaign by the Maquila Solidarity Network in Toronto for their mistreatment of workers in Canada and in their factories in Honduras. The IWC and Gildan’s workers demanded that the Montreal Jazz Festival, who bought all of their tshirts from Gildan, adopt an ethical purchasing policy in response to Gildan’s labour practices. The campaign has resulted in some improvement in the conditions in factories in Honduras. In addition, the Maquila Solidarity Network writes that the campaigns “succeeded in pressuring Gildan to enter into an agreement with MSN and the WRC to provide first-hire preference to all former El Progreso workers, including union supporters, at its other sewing facilities in Honduras. It also agreed to cooperate with verification of compliance with the agreement by the Honduran Independent Monitoring Team (EMIH).”
NEED MORE INFORMATION HERE—WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER FACTORIES? WHAT HAPPENNED TO THE WORKERS HERE?
COVERAGE FOR DOMESTIC WORKERS (2005)
In 2005, a live-in domestic worker who had become ill and was unable to work contacted the Centre. Initially, the Centre assisted her in making a claim with the CSST, Quebec’s workplace health and safety agency, for compensation during the time she was unable to work. She was told that domestic workers did not fit the definition of “workers”, and were therefore not covered by the CSST in Quebec (domestic workers are covered in Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba). In conjunction with PINAY, a Filipina women’s organization, and AAFQ (l’Association des Aides Familiales du Quebec), n organization that represents and advocates for domestic workers, the IWC launched a campaign in 2006 that demanded that domestic workers be covered. The campaign has been supported by over 70 organizations, unions, and union federations in the province.
In 2008, Cellulab, a cell phone repair company, closed its doors after their workers—largely new immigrants from North Africa and Mexico—unionized. The company closed without notice to its employees, without informing the government of a collective dismissal, and without paying their workers for the last two months of work. After the workers came to the Centre for help, the IWC, along with the UFCW (Union of Food and Commercial Workers) filed a joint complaint with the Labour Standards Board, and the workers were able to win back their wages.