TO THE TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS AND THEIR CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST DENNY’S RESTAURANTS
From the Coalition for Migrant Workers Justice (C4MWJ)
Vancouver, British Columbia
July 5, 2012
An injury to migrant workers is an injury to all Canadians, especially when their labour rights and standards are violated.
We are members and representatives of diverse groups, from faith-based groups, research and academia, service providers, grassroots organizations, migrant workers’ associations to human rights groups, working collectively under the umbrella of the Coalition for Migrant Workers’ Justice (C4MWJ). We sign our names and our organizations to this letter to publicly show our solidarity and support for the Denny’s temporary foreign workers in their fight for justice and for their rights through the class action lawsuit against the large family enterprise, the Northland Properties Corporation, the parent company of Denny’s Restaurants.
The class action suit of more than 70 foreign temporary workers, mostly Filipinos, against the Denny’s Restaurants, is unprecedented in the history of the labour movement. Migrant workers, mostly cooks and servers, took the Denny’s Restaurants to court for the failure of their employer to provide them with the promised 40 hours of work per week, the failure to correctly calculate and provide overtime pay, the failure to pay the costs of air travel between the Philippines and Canada and for punitive damages for the conduct of Denny’s and its Agents. The Filipino temporary foreign workers also paid up to $6000.00 each to a recruiter hired by Denny’s.
The lawyers of the Denny’s workers have gone to the press and to the court to protest the recent actions of the Denny’s Restaurants to threaten, intimidate, coerce, and mislead the workers in its attempt to get them to opt-out of the lawsuit. This is the same Denny’s Restaurants that was found guilty and fined by the Employment Standards Branch for illegally firing worker Alfredo Sales who raised the very same issues in the class action. This is the same Denny’s Restaurants that was also fined for not paying overtime wages to its workers in six (6) locations in British Columbia.
It takes courage for migrant workers to bring up work issues with employers largely because of their precarious status as temporary workers, their being tied to one employer, and having no union to grieve to. However, it takes more than courage to lodge a class action lawsuit against one of the biggest private corporations in Canada. To stand up and fight for what one has worked hard for, for what is within the law, for what was promised in work contracts, for what they as workers deserve is to not only stand up for the principles of honesty, decency, and transparency but also it is to stand up against implied and overt threats, pressure and coercion.
The class action lawsuit is more than a personal issue for these workers – it is also the issue of families left behind in the Philippines who are dependent on remittances the workers send home. Poverty and unemployment have driven these workers to sacrifice everything to come to Canada, why they have left behind their families to work as cooks and servers at Denny’s Restaurants.
The Denny’s class action lawsuit is also the issue of corporations being found out that the profits they make are from the backs of these temporary foreign workers whose labour rights they have violated.
The victory of the Denny’s workers is a victory for all temporary foreign workers, to all Canadian workers.
In solidarity with the Denny’s workers,
§ AWA-UFCW Surrey
§ Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
§ Justicia for Migrant Workers – BC
§ KAIROS Vancouver
§ Longhouse Council of Native Ministry c/o Rev. Barry Morris
§ Migrante BC
§ Missionaries of St. Charles- Scalabrinians local community in Vancouver
§ Red Latina Legal
§ Richmond KAIROS Committee
§ St. Joseph’s Langley Mexican Farm Workers Outreach
§ West Coast Domestic Workers’ Association (WCDWA)
Coalition for Migrant Workers’ Justice (C4MWJ) We are members of faith-based communities, grassroots migrant organizations, service providers and unions who have become aware of and begun working as a coalition to support and further understand the struggles of migrant workers living in our communities.