Originally published on the NS Advocate.
By Robert Devet
People who get paid the least and work in the most unstable jobs are often the people most vulnerable to abuse by their bosses.
And without a union or money to get legal help, these workers usually have nowhere to go.
In Halifax at least that situations has improved a bit. There is now a Workers Action Centre (WAC) that you can turn to for answers to your questions and for concrete support.
“We’re starting slowly, and will continue to build,” says Katrin MacPhee, an organizer with the Halifax WAC.
“We have a phone intake line people can call, and one or two regular scheduled clinics per month. As the demand grows we have enough volunteers to increase the hours,” MacPhee says.
MacPhee anticipates that many problems people bring forward will be around labour standards, unpaid wages, trouble collecting wages from employers, holiday pay, unpaid overtime, and so on.
Workplace discrimination and being let go without notice also are big ones, she says.
A WAC is much more than a legal clinic that just happens to specialize in workplace issues, says MacPhee.
“We want to help build a strong workers movement, by offering support to individuals, but also by empowering people to feel capable of changing their working conditions through unionization or other forms of organizing,” she says.
“If somebody comes to us with an unpaid overtime issue for instance, then we want to look at all options. It could be labour standard complaint, or people may be interested in some form of direct action,” says MacPhee.
And as an organization we will also take part in policy campaigns like the Fight for 15 and Fairness, she adds.
The WAC is being funded and supported by the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council, and Solidarity Halifax.
People interested in attending a clinic session, a workshop, or getting involved with the Centre can call the Centre’s intake line at (902) 221-0755. Check out the WAC website.