Noisy protest held on behalf of migrant workers outside Denny's on Davie Street

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      About 40 people gathered outside a West End Denny's restaurant today (March 26) to protest the treatment of migrant workers.

      The rally was organized by the immigrants'-rights group Migrante-B.C. and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

      They're backing a lawsuit by a migrant worker, Herminia Vergara Dominguez, against the restaurant's owner, Northland Properties Corporation.

      Naveen Mehta, the UFCW's Toronto-based director of human rights, equity, and diversity, told the Georgia Straight that the lawyers handling the case hope to have it certified as a class-action lawsuit.

      Naveen Mehta, director of human rights, equity, and diversity with the United Food and Commercial Workers, relied on a megaphone to ensure that people heard the protest inside and outside of Denny's.

      The lawsuit alleges that more than 50 Filipino foreign workers were required to pay $6,000 each to an agency that recruited employees for Denny's, but did not receive the hours of work, overtime pay, and travel expenses that they were promised.

      Northland officials were unavailable for comment.

      Mable Elmore, NDP MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, told the crowd that she first became aware of the situation when she visited Denny's for breakfast.

      A worker approached her to describe his plight, and she invited him to her community office to discuss the issue further.

      She praised his courage in stepping forward, and introduced him to people at Migrante-B.C.

      "We helped him fill out an employment-standards complaint and supported him and the other workers at Denny’s to put forward this class-action lawsuit," Elmore explained.

      Elmore called on the provincial government to do more for temporary migrant workers. She demanded a 1-800 provincewide hotline and "strengthening of employment standards and labour legislation to advocate for temporary foreign workers".


      NDP MLA Mable Elmore says the B.C. government should set up a hotline for migrant workers.

      Jane Ordinario, a community worker, Migrante B.C., told the Straight that the first worker was sent home because he lost his status in Canada. Dominguez then stepped forward and became the representative plaintiff in the lawsuit.

      Ordinario noted that a forum was held at a nearby church, where lawyers informed the migrant workers about their legal rights.

      "We will also have to assist the workers who were sent back to the Philippines,” she added.

      Philippine community leader R.J. Aquino explains why he joined the protest outside Denny's.

      Local Philippine community activist R.J. Aquino said that the demonstration was designed to let migrant workers everywhere know that they have community support.

      "We want to make sure our voices are not just for these migrant workers with this lawsuit for Denny’s, but for every migrant worker around the world who is receiving unfair and unjust treatment from their employers,” Aquino told the crowd.


      The Solidarity Notes Labour Choir sang songs at the front door of the restaurant.

      Comments

      21 Comments

      TM Poo

      Mar 26, 2011 at 4:15pm

      It was a good show. If you we do not protect the most vulnerable among us then we will all decend into a pool of weak apathy.

      francis Follberg

      Mar 26, 2011 at 5:16pm

      This was awesome. We need more of this!!

      eli

      Mar 26, 2011 at 11:18pm

      Great! this fight for the protection the of rights and welfare of migrants is not just for Denny's workers but for all the temporary foreign workers all over Canada!

      W Talacko

      Mar 26, 2011 at 11:41pm

      What is goin on!!Canadians must be employed first! Filipinos will be new immigrants,and Canadians will be paying for their welfare.
      Canadians are all insane to let forein nationals to come here in this time of unemployment,sheer insanity!!

      Valerie Raoul

      Mar 27, 2011 at 8:16am

      It was great that there were people there from several different communities including Filipinos, Hispanics, and Iranians, as well as an 87 year-old white nun who spoke about how things have not changed! The protest was on behalf of Temporary Foreign Workers as well as recent immigrants and "illegals". Foreigners come here because life is terrible in their country, and these jobs are available bcause no privileged Canadian will do them for such low pay and in such bad conditions. This country could not function without them and their contribution should be acknowledged by decent wages and citizenship.

      Pat Crowe

      Mar 27, 2011 at 9:17am

      How many Canadian applications are turned down by Canadian employers because the employer is taking advantage of dubious offshore hiring practices? How does this serve Canadians? Why should my taxes go to Canadians who can't get Canadian jobs because of this nonsense?

      Steve Y

      Mar 27, 2011 at 3:19pm

      Yup, they should cancel the Temporary worker program in its entirety right away. We should make this an election issue. There are 100,000's of unemployed people in this country. No way we need to go to the phillipines to get waitresses when there are people out of work here in BC. There are plenty of people that want the jobs.

      bowser

      Mar 27, 2011 at 4:13pm

      If you read the article carefully, you will plainly see that the workers were charged $6000 and made promises by an agency that recruited workers for Denny's, not by Denny's or the Northland corporation. But hey, don't let the truth get in the way of a good public relations stunt put forth by someone from the NDP. We all know how reliable and organized the NDP is - haha.

      Junie

      Mar 27, 2011 at 5:39pm

      I agree 100% that temporary foreign worker program should be axed and one step further, lower our immigration level and intake of skilled workers. We don't need 250,000 new immigrants each year, not with the high level of unemployed and unemployable here. Employers are using the problem to maximize their profit margin, nothing to do with no Canadians available for the job. It's very easy to receive a resume and file it, and make a case with HRSDC that you can't find a local, therefore, the need to hire someone cheap from overseas. GREED.

      Michael Gutierrez

      Mar 27, 2011 at 7:58pm

      It seems to me the focus should be on ending disgusting business practices that no one wants to be party to when these ugly truths are discovered by the public. Of course, Denny's or Northland corporation will blame the agency, but are they innocent? When you do business, you CAN practice due diligence and find out who you're dealing with.

      Also, for "Bowser", dismissing this sort of misconduct because you think it is a publicity stunt by the NDP is an insult to this community's intelligence. There are real issues here.

      As for me, I hope the truth does come out, whatever that turns out to be. It seems there is a sense of cowardly people hiding shamelessly behind their corporations and lawyers saying, "I'm not responsible!". If the public doesn't care, why should the politicians? We should all be responsible and accountable for our actions.

      My two cents.