UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

November 17, 2009 16:01 ET

Scarborough Laundry a Dangerous "Sweatshop" Says Immigrant Workers

Workers charge safety and employment laws are disregarded at commercial laundry supplier to major Toronto hotels

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 17, 2009) - A Scarborough commercial laundry facility that holds contracts with numerous GTA hotel chains has been subjecting its over one hundred employees to working conditions akin to a sweatshop, according to workers at the Lincare commercial laundry. The workers, many who are new immigrants, allege they regularly fail to get paid, and face dangerous, life-threatening working conditions.

Last week the company fired six workers who were involved in a union organizing drive with UFCW Canada.

"Working in Lincare is like working in a sweatshop," states Parvathy Thamboo, one of the workers recently fired from the Lincare laundry after spearheading the union drive. She had worked at Lincare for more than five years, where she says, "the working conditions are very dangerous. There is no safety equipment and the machines don't have proper safety guards."

"Many of us have been seriously injured on the job. Some women have had their hair caught in machines, other have injured their limbs after being stuck in between heavy equipment," recounts Thamboo.

Safety is one issue. Getting paid is another. "Lincare routinely issues cheques that bounce," explains Kumanan Thurairajah, a nine-year veteran at Lincare who was also recently fired for being involved in the union drive. "The company owes most of us workers thousands of dollars in back-pay, and a few of us have been evicted from our homes because we haven't received our wage."

"It is outrageous that workers at a company in our backyard can be subjected to these kinds of sweatshop conditions," says Kevin Shimmin, a UFCW Canada national representative and organizer.

"Many of the workers at Lincare are new immigrants who came here for a better way of life — not to be exploited and treated as second class citizens. Lincare is a very successful company that holds contracts a number of major hotels in the Toronto area. It is totally unacceptable that Lincare refuses to pay their employees their salaries, not to mention overtime and vacation pay."

Lincare supplies services to a number of major hotel properties and chains in the GTA including Marriot, Best Western, Novotel, the Westin Prince, and the Fairmount Royal York.

UFCW Canada is the largest private sector union in Canada representing more than 250,000 workers from coast to coast.

Contact Information