Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

March 06, 2012 05:00 ET

REPEAT: OFL Media Conference: Vulnerable Workers Speak Out Against Workplace Bullying, Reprisals and Termination

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 6, 2012) - Ontario workers seeking to improve their working conditions by forming a union are being targeted for intimidation, reprisals and termination by employers hell-bent on making sure they can't form a union, says the Ontario Federation of Labour. Hotel workers, cleaners in public and private buildings, service workers, and many others have been the latest casualties of labour laws that prevent the most vulnerable workers from challenging poor wages and working conditions.

During a three-year campaign to bring a union to three Novotel hotel properties in Toronto and Ottawa, several workers have faced discipline, suspension and even termination after speaking in support of the union. Two of these workers, Hossein Matubber and Esperance Umwizaninde, will tell their personal stories about workplace bulling, intimidation and reprisals to demonstrate how Ontario is failing to protect its most vulnerable workers. OFL President Sid Ryan will call for changes to Ontario's labour laws that make sure that employers cannot interfere with workers' right to form a union or eliminate union protections by contracting out jobs.

"Because Ontario's labour laws are stacked in favour of employers, many vulnerable workers don't stand a fighting chance in today's economy. More and more workers are stuck in low-wage jobs, with no benefits and no protection. They are overwhelmingly women, racialized people and new immigrants trying to make a better life for their families," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Joining a union is the best path out of poverty and protection against unfair treatment. Ontario needs new labour laws to prevent unscrupulous employers from denying workers rights or laying off employees only to rehire them from private contractors who pay bargain basement wages."

WHAT: Media conference calling for laws to protect workers from bullying
WHEN: 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2012
WHERE: Queen's Park Media Studio
WHO: Sid Ryan, OFL President
Hossein Matubber, Kitchen Worker, Novotel Mississauga
Esperance Umwizaninde, Former Room Attendant, Novotel Ottawa

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.

WORKER BIOGRAPHIES

Hossein Matubber

Kitchen Worker, Novotel Mississauga

Hossein has worked at the Novotel Mississauga for approximately seven years. He has worked for Accor for over ten years, beginning his career working for Accor Hotels in Australia, in a unionized hotel.

Hossein has very publicly supported the union within the hotel, and his shifts have been cut from approximately forty hours a week to ten or fifteen hours. Due to his decrease in hours, Hossein lost some of his benefits just prior to the arrival of his wife and daughter from overseas. Hossein currently works two jobs as he cannot depend on hours at the Novotel Mississauga to support his family.

Esperance Umwizaninde

Former Room Attendant, Novotel Ottawa

Esperance grew up in Rwanda and moved to Canada in 1998. She is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.

When she first came to Canada, she stayed home to take care of her children.

She has been a room attendant for the past eight years, first for four years at another Ottawa hotel, then for the past four years at the Novotel Ottawa.

Her youngest child, her only son, was diagnosed with leukemia as a young child, and requires regular medical attention.

Esperance received one verbal warning in the two years before she started openly supporting a union organizing drive at her hotel. Since then she received multiple warnings and disciplines and was finally terminated on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011. In one exchange with a manager, Esperance was informed she was not allowed to speak her language, French, at work because others might not understand.

www.OFL.ca

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Contact Information

  • Sid Ryan
    OFL President
    416-209-0066 (mobile)

    Joel Duff
    OFL Communications Director
    416-707-0349 (mobile) ENGLISH/FRENCH