Hundreds of temporary foreign workers have launched a class action lawsuit against Mac’s Convenience Stores, claiming they paid more than $8,000 to get jobs in Canada that did not exist.
The notice of claim, filed with the B.C. Supreme Court, alleges that from December 2009 onwards the workers were recruited in Dubai to work at Mac’s stores in B.C., Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
But, the claim says, when the workers arrived in Canada, they found the more than 425 jobs they had been contracted to perform — the only jobs they were allowed to perform under their TFW permits — were non-existent.
“It’s outrageous, it’s totally outrageous. It’s exploitative and it shouldn’t happen in a country like ours. It shouldn’t happen,” said one of the lawyers representing the group, Carmela Allevato.
“It’s very sad; their stories are heart-wrenching and hopefully there’ll be justice for them at some point.”
Surrey firms also sued
The migrant workers are also suing three immigration firms — Overseas Immigration Services, Overseas Career and Consulting Services and Trident Immigration Services — all based in Surrey, B.C.
The firms allegedly charged the workers an illegal $8,000 recruitment fee and made them pay their own transportation to Canada.
“Everybody played a role in it,” said Allevato. “Overseas was the agency that was used, and Mac’s is the employer that didn’t deliver.”
Under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, migrant workers are issued a permit strictly linked to the employment contract offered by their new employer.
If the worker’s job role, location, or employer changes, their work permit becomes invalid.
“As a result, the Plaintiffs and Class Members were left without any legal source of income in Canada,” states the notice of claim. “They suffered mental and physical distress, humiliation and loss of self esteem.”