Bakers Journal

News
Unifor calling for Fiera Foods’ owners to be penalized


September 27, 2019
By Bakers Journal

Unifor calls for severe and swift penalties for Fiera Foods owners following the death of a worker at one of the company’s industrial bakery properties.

“Fiera Foods must not be allowed to operate business as usual and its owners must immediately take responsibility for this tragic death and answer to the victim’s family and the public for their actions,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President in a press release. “The Government of Ontario must also intervene before yet another worker dies on the job because of greedy and careless owners who believe the cost of a fine and a slap on the wrist are worth more than the lives of its workers.”

On the afternoon of September 25, 2019 a worker died on the job at Fiera Foods, the fifth such tragedy at the industrial bakery and its affiliated workplaces since 1999. Fiera Foods’ workforce comprised of roughly 70 per cent temporary workers who suffer from an unfair, precarious employment relationship.

A 2017 Toronto Star investigation found that temporary workers at Fiera Foods receive little to no workplace safety training, are paid under the table through payday lenders, and are often considered “temporary” for their entire employment, for months or even more than a year.

“I offer my heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and the entire community of the worker who passed,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “I cannot emphasize strongly enough how callous and unacceptable Doug Ford’s conservative government’s actions were when they chose to snatch away workplace protections and further incentivize exploitation of workers.”

The union claims that Doug Ford’s conservatives have “weakened labour standards in Ontario to an alarming degree” by taking the following actions:

  • Introduced Bill 47 which repealed the requirement to pay temp agency workers doing the same work the same rate of pay based on agency employment status, dramatically affecting temporary workers;
  • Bill 47 also placed the onus on proving misclassification on the employee, not the employer; and
  • Cut $16 million in funding for the Ministry of Labour’s office tasked with occupational injury, illness and death prevention.

“Ontario workers are far from exaggerating when we say we are under direct attack by Ford’s conservatives,” continued Dias. “Companies must not be allowed to rake in profits while forcing vulnerable workers into unsafe, deadly working conditions. We need the government to give workers at the bare minimum basic protections so that when they go to work they come home safe at the end of their shift.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.