Temporary foreign workers sue Mac’s stores over jobs promised but not delivered

December 17, 2015

By Keith Fraser, the Province |

A group of temporary foreign workers has filed a class-action lawsuit in B.C. alleging they paid upwards of $8,000 to secure employment at Mac’s convenience stores in Western Canada but when they got to Canada, there was no work for them.

The class members, believed to more than 300 people, are suing Mac’s and several immigration firms based in Surrey for allegedly luring them to Canada with the false promises of employment.

“It’s just pure exploitation,” said Carmela Allevato, a lawyer representing the workers. “As a Canadian, it’s very disturbing. It’s very disturbing that people have been treated this way.”

The workers say that the immigration firms, which include Overseas Immigration Services Inc., hosted large recruitment fairs in the Middle East to bring the workers to Canada.

Mac’s used a standard form employment contract based on a template provided by the federal government for the workers and acting on its own behalf or through Overseas made promises regarding wages, hours of work and working conditions, according to the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Overseas allegedly charged the workers $8,000 to get a job with $2,000 of that fee to be paid up front and the remainder after the worker was given the green light to come to Canada.

A Nepalese man named Prakash Basyal, one of four representative plaintiffs, says he was living in Dubai and working full-time at a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop when he attended one of the recruitment fairs put on by Overseas in 2012.

Wanting to come to Canada to secure permanent resident status, Basyal says he was told by Overseas that if he paid the $8,000 fee he’d get a job as a Mac’s cashier in Edmonton, working 37.5 hours a week at $11.40 an hour.

After he’d got the necessary approval through Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program, he says he flew to Vancouver in April 2014 and received a work permit authorizing him to work as a cashier.

But he says Overseas instructed him to live in a Surrey apartment with six to eight other workers and was not sent to work.

In May 2014, he was told there was no work for him at the Mac’s store in Edmonton and he refused to work as suggested on a farm instead since that would violate the work permit.

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