Dollarama employees protest against employment agencies in Montreal

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MONTREAL -- Dollarama warehouse workers plan to demonstrate on Saturday afternoon in front of a store in Plaza Saint-Hubert in Montreal.

They are demanding to become official Dollarama employees and that the company stop dealing with temporary employment agencies.

Workers at the Dollarama warehouse criticize the Montreal retail giant management for using temporary employment agencies that would force employees to work at an unsafe pace.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, protest co-organizer Noelle Didierjean of the protest and community organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre explained that Dollarama encourages several agencies to compete inside the distribution centre and that employees must fulfill high production quotas which jeopardize their safety.

"For example, the worker who has to fill the pallets and ship them has to do two per hour. But several employees tell us that two pallets an hour is dangerous," said Didierjean.

Didierjean specified that six or seven employment agencies are in competition with the warehouse of Dollarama and each of these agencies wants to offer the retail giant the best return, often to the detriment of the working conditions of the employees.

She added that by abolishing employment agencies, Dollarama could save money and thus offer better wages to employees.

Former Dollarama worker and community organizer at the Immigrant Workers Centre Guarav Sharma said that agencies take part of employees' wages when they do not receive any social benefits such as group insurance.

According to the Centre for Immigrant Workers, which is co-hosting the protest, on the same production line, workers who perform the same task with the same level of seniority may receive different pay and bonuses, depending on the agency who hired them.

"It is a loophole in labour law that should be closed," said Didierjean.

DOLLARAMA DENIES ACCUSATIONS

In an email to The Canadian Press, Dollarama spokesperson Lyla Radmanovich rejected the allegations made by protest organizers.

According to the retail giant, "the false allegations repeatedly made by these third-party organizations about working conditions, pay scales and Dollarama's response to COVID-19 are unfounded and entirely false."

She also added that "salary scales are very competitive - both in-store and in our warehouses and distribution centre - and have continued to advance over the period, in response to market conditions."

In August, workers at retailer Dollarama, supported by union leaders and the Immigrant Workers Centre, also staged a protest against their wages and working conditions.

They then criticized the Montreal retailer for having abolished the 10 per cent risk premiums paid since last March to those who work in stores on Aug. 2, as well as the $3 increase in the hourly wage of warehouse workers.

The bonuses were granted because of the risks associated with the novel coronavirus.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2020. 

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