You may have personally experienced or know someone who has experienced wage theft, which is a very real and frequently occurring form of corruption in many workplaces (some examples covered by media: , ).
Wage theft occurs when an employer (or ex-employer) keeps some or all of the wages you have earned. Bosses have all sorts of tricks and excuses when it comes to stealing wages. For example:
- Flat-out failure/refusal to pay
- Issuing a pay cheque that bounces
- Not paying for training
- Not paying for overtime and/or holidays
- Not keeping records of hours worked or fabricating record of hours worked
- Paying less than minimum wage for job classification
- Stealing tips/gratuities
One only needs to look at Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Conviction Archive to find hundreds (How many wage thefts can you find? We counted over 250 in Ottawa alone!) of violations of the Employment Standards Act of Ontario from August 2008 to July 2009 that are specifically labeled as employers’ failures to pay their employees.
These are the convictions that actually went through the Ontario Ministry of Labour, and anyone who has gone down that path can tell you that it is time-consuming and a potentially expensive process, not exactly an attractive prospect for anyone who works hard to pay their bills.
It is very possible that there are hundreds of wage theft occurrences each year in Ottawa-Gatineau alone that go unreported. However, we’re not happy to leave you with that, being the good sports that we are. We summarized data presented on the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s conviction pages in a graph for your viewing pleasure:
- *From 2003-2009 there was an annual average conviction rate of 1.74% of all employers who were reported to the Ontario Ministry of Labour for breaking employment standard laws.
- Between 2006 and 2009 there is an increase of over five thousand complaints. Bosses across Ontario are becoming more confident in their ability to steal your wages and get away with it.
We here at the Ottawa-Outaouais GMB have dealt with a number of similar employers over the years (for example) and every time we have won our members’ stolen wages, that is a whopping 100% success rate compared to OML’s 1.74%* (oh come on, let’s have some fun while we’re at it).
If you are experiencing wage theft contact us and join us in getting your wages paid with direct action!
IWW: The Fighting Union For All Workers!