TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 18, 2012) - Despite denial from the petroleum industry, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) believes that the illegal practice of docking worker wages for gas theft may have played a role in Saturday night's gas-and-dash killing of a Toronto gas station attendant. Today the OFL set out to prove its suspicion by launching a hotline to report gas stations and late night retailers that are ripping off employees.
"We believe that at far too many gas stations in Ontario, after a thief drives off with stolen gas, the company turns around and steals the money back from vulnerable workers," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "This practice puts workers' lives at risk and could have played a role in the death of an innocent gas station attendant. We want anyone with information on gas stations ripping off employees to call our anonymous hotline to help identify bad bosses and offending companies."
Last Saturday night, a Toronto Shell gas station attendant Jayesh Prajapati was run over during pursuit of an SUV driver who stole $112 worth of gas. In response, the OFL immediately called on police and the Ministry of Labour to conduct a criminal investigation into the policies and practices of Shell Canada and the 850 Roselawn Avenue Shell franchise owner, Maz Alibhai. Since then, Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI), the umbrella company representing Canadian big oil company has denied any corporate wrong-doing. On national news last night, President Peter Boag claimed that "no CPPI member company would deduct from the paycheque of an employee money to compensate for theft."
The OFL is setting out to challenge that claim and has launched a Bad Gas Rip-Off Hotline at 1-800-668-9138 to receive anonymous tips on franchise owners and companies.
"The OFL's Bad Gas Hotline is going to help the little guy push back against wage theft by Canada's Big Oil companies," said Ryan. "If gas companies are telling employees not to intervene in criminal activities then they can't allow bosses to blame workers for customer theft and illegally dock wages. It renders the policy meaningless and puts tremendous pressure on minimum-wage workers to put their lives in harm's way to protect their income."
"The Employment Standards Act clearly prohibits employers for deducting the cost of theft from the wages of workers. Shell Canada has a responsibility to enforce their policy and ensure that licensed franchise owners aren't breaking the law and exploiting workers," said Ryan. "Together, we can put a stop to this illegal practice and protect workers from wage loss, exploitation and unimaginable tragedy."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For more information on the OFL, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.