British Columbia Members Protests Domestic Outsourcing


April 12, 2013


Victoria Local 230 is threatening to withdraw millions in funds from the Royal Bank of Canada to protest its role in outsourcing Canadian jobs.

Labour activists in Western Canada are calling for amoratorium on the federal temporary foreign worker program, saying that the system is rife with abuse.

The situation is particularly dire in British Columbia, where unemployment spiked to 7 percent in March – the largest jump in Canada.

B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclairtold the Times Colonist:

You can’t have 70,000 [temporary foreign workers] in the province and have an unemployment rate at 7 percent and not assume that some of those folks are doing jobs that other people should be doing.

Victoria Local 230 has threatened to pull millions of dollars out of the Royal Bank of Canada to protest the bank’s role in outsourcing.

As the Times Colonist reports:

In Victoria, the executive board of Local 230 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has raised concerns that RBC contracted a multinational company called iGate to deliver technology services, costing 45 Toronto workers their jobs.

Local 230 business manager Phil Venoit said members are not opposed to the temporary foreign workers but are concerned the program is being abused. Local 230, which has banked with RBC for more than 50 years, is looking at moving its money, he said.

Says Venoit:

Unless the RBC starts putting people before excessive profits, then not only will our union be withdrawing our funds, we will be urging our members, the Canadian working class who care about the economic future of our country, to no longer darken their door as well.

Federal law allows companies to to hire foreign workers if they can prove Canadian ones are not available. Prime Minster Stephen Harper is a big supporter of the temporary foreign worker program, with the number of temporary workers nearly doubling since he took office.

Critics of the program say that employers are increasingly turning to foreign workers as a low-wage alternative to Canadian workers. Temporary workers make up to 15 percent less than Canadians.

And as temporary employees without many of the same rights enjoyed by Canadians, foreign workers are less likely to protest violations of workers rights’, safety and other workplace regulations.

Says Sinclair:

It has become the option, the first-choice by employers in some sectors, not the last resort.

The problem, says one recent report issued by the United Food and Commercial Workers, is that big business is increasingly displacing the government when it comes to immigration policy, with profits – not the national interest – the main priority.

The report’s authors say this has resulted in a:

Targeted shift from a governmental model favoring entry of permanent residents, who would have equal access to legal rights and a path to citizenship, to migrant workers who are faced with precarious immigration status and more limited access to legal rights. The consequences of such a shift has inevitably created a perpetually vulnerable and exploited workforce.



Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user physis3141