Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch
Industrial Workers of the World
May 11, 2012
For Immediate Release
OTTAWA— After months of picketing by the Ottawa-Outaouais Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and community allies, a very stubborn boss who has failed to pay her ex-workers has been issued two Orders to Pay Wages by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (Order # 80016401-OP and Order # 80016403-OP).
Cameo Salon & Spa Ltd., and the principal operating the business, Ms. Claudette Wilkinson Fagan, has been ordered to pay our members, Stephen Toth and Brandon Wallans, $1,211.52 and $1,769.56 respectively for hours worked at the minimum wage rate, plus 4% vacation pay. The decision, issued April 24, 2012, followed an investigation launched in late 2011 and a hearing with the parties held on March 29, 2012.
The Ministry’s investigation revealed violations of the Employment Standards Act and ordered payment of the stolen wages within 30 days of the date of the decision. The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW stresses that failure by the employer to comply with the Orders by the end of this period will be responded to with an immediate resumption of picketing of the Bank Street salon. Picketing will continue to highlight the salon’s labour practices as well as the growing trend of wage theft to the public, until such point that payment is made in trust to the Ministry or until the salon’s assets are seized and liquidated.
Ms. Fagan responded to one of the claims of wage theft by alleging that her career in hairdressing begun when “someone helped me”, “…presumably under a similar ‘no-wage’ arrangement”, as put in the decision by the Ministry following their investigation into Stephen Toth’s claim.
To the wage theft of Brandon Wallans, Ms. Fagan responded by stating that he chose to accompany his friend, Mr. Toth, while he was at the salon and that he “volunteered his services because he had nothing better to do”, a submission that was not accepted as credible by the investigator in his decision. This was in light of significant evidence provided by the union of an employment relationship, including that he had a business card, keys to the salon, attended staff meetings and that on at least one occasion closed the salon at the employer’s request.
The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW has heard excuses by wage-stealing bosses in the past. However, none have been as creatively constructed as Ms. Fagan’s.
Wage theft is a growing trend among bosses who decide to keep some or all of the wages a worker has earned. These thefts can be fought by workers most effectively when they unite and take action, both through formal legal channels as well as by hitting the picket lines.
The degree of police harassment of our picket lines and of our community allies is also unprecedented in this matter. Given the Ministry’s determination that Ms. Fagan and Cameo / Hype Salon have violated the Employment Standards Act, we call on the police to uphold the law for workers and not just for the bosses.
Finally, we call on members of the Ottawa Police Services to respect our constitutionally-protected rights of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association and to refrain from unlawfully harassing any IWW pickets in the future.
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