18
Aug
13

Success!!

Vancouver Solidarity Network (VANSOL) has success in coffee shop worker conflict.

This spring, a coffee shop worker in Mt. Pleasant contacted VANSOL about compensation from their boss after being fired unfairly and without notice.  The worker showed up to work and was left almost completely off the schedule for the next two weeks (3 hours only), effectively being fired without notice.  According to the Employment Standards Branch, a boss must give the worker notice, or offer compensation accordingly.

The worker, understanding the potential for frustration in dealing with the ESB, and desperate to pay rent, decided to use another tactic to obtain their lost wages. They contacted VANSOL, an organization that exists specifically to pressure bosses and landlords that take advantage of workers and renters. VANSOL and the worker drafted a letter listing their demands, while also noting that if demands were not met, they would escalate tactics until the demands were met, using community support and picket tactics.

It is very common for bosses to take advantage of workers, and to cut corners in terms of what is owed to workers. The service industry depends on this, and knows that workers are not likely to contact the ESB or push to get what is owed to them.  The location in this case is notorious for this type of firing.  I am sure the bosses were not expecting the worker to contact them again. Just think about how many times they got away with not following protocol. At the end of the day, the burden falls on the shoulders of the workers, who have become accustomed to this treatment and often accept it instead of going after their lost wages.

This type of community organizing is finding success in many cities. It is in a “solidarity” mentality that community members can find security and continuity, investing in future support actions for themselves and friends.  In other parts of Canada, folks are starting to organize themselves in coffee shops and other service industry jobs, using these “solidarity network” tactics. It is just a matter of time before this practice becomes the standard for workers dealing with bosses.  It is definitely more effective than dealing with the Employment Standards Branch and navigating impossible legal bureaucracies.

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