Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Royal Bank of Canada is abusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to the detriment of both migrant and national workers, says Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Georgetti was responding to news that 45 existing RBC employees, who will soon be displaced, are having to train migrant workers from abroad to do their information technology jobs. The temporary workers on visas are employed by a labour broker called iGATE. After being trained most of those workers will leave Canada and perform their work from abroad.

“This is yet another case of employers and labour brokers abusing the federal government’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” says Georgetti. “This is absolutely flagrant abuse of the program and the federal government should not allow it.”

Georgetti says there are similarities between the RBC case and that of work permits issued to Dehua International allowing the company to import workers under the TFWP for a coal mine in Northern British Columbia. “In both cases, there were enough people in the existing workforce to do the job but the companies in question chose to abuse the TWFP to the detriment of workers.”

There are an estimated 300,000 workers in Canada under the TFWP, triple the number from a decade ago. Legislation introduced along with the 2012 federal budget makes it easier for employers to import workers and to pay them as much as 15 per cent below the average prevailing wage.

“The government always promises to investigate abuses and to crack down on unscrupulous employers but we have no confidence in that promise,” Georgetti says.

The CLC is calling for the establishment of a National Migrant Worker Commission with authentic regulatory and enforcement powers to protect migrant workers rights and ensure that our national labour force is fully utilized. Georgetti adds, “It is long overdue for Ottawa to ensure that employer’s claims of labour and skill shortages are genuine and that migrant workers and all newcomers can access a clear and transparent path to citizenship.”