Montreal’s warehouses routinely exploit a large segment of immigrant workers, a new report has found.
A survey carried out last summer by the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) observed that two-thirds of warehouse employees are often forced to work overtime and 10 per cent are paid below Quebec’s minimum hourly wage of $12.50.
“It’s like a slave trade,” a worker said on Saturday at a news conference at the headquarters of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).
More than 15,600 workers lift boxes and drive forklifts in warehouses in the Montreal metropolitan region. The report noted that most warehouse workers are hired through placement agencies that in some cases, collect nearly half their wages in commissions.
The largest proportion of immigrant warehouse workers are from Haiti, according to the survey.
The IWC is calling on the provincial government to adopt a decree to set common standards for warehouse workers, including guaranteed wages, paid holidays and sick leave.
“Warehouse work in Montreal is structured so that employees have a minimal capacity for collective organization,” Mostafa Henaway, of the IWC, said in a statement.
Henaway added that workers are expected to keep up with a gruelling pace, and are not provided safety equipment or training.
More to come.