Friday 12 April 2013



There are few actions on the part of employers that are more repugnant than firing employees so that they can hire new employees at a cheaper wage to replace the fired employees. This happened to me on two occasions when I was a young man. And to add insult to injury, one of my employers asked me to train my replacement when I didn’t even know that the trainee was going to replace me at a lower wage.


Dave Moreau, who works in IT systems support, of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) said he is one of 50 employees who facilitate various transactions for RBC Investor Services in Toronto, which serves the bank’s biggest and wealthiest institutional clients.


He said on April 6, 2013, ““They (temporary workers) are being brought in from India, and I am wondering how they got work visas.  The new people are in our offices and we are training them to do our jobs. That adds insult to injury.”


In Canada, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) enables employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis to fill immediate skills and labour shortages, when Canadian citizens and permanent residents are not available to do the job. Not being available means any one of two things—Canadians (citizens and landed immigrants) who aren’t available for particular skilled work in their community and/or those who don’t want to do the menial jobs such as picking fruit or tobacco etc.


Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Service is responsible for assessing the applications from employers requesting to hire temporary foreign workers (TFW), and issues a labour market opinion (LMO) on the likely impact these TFWs would have on the Canadian job market. If the applicant is successful, they are issued a temporary VISA to work in Canada.

Employers can select one of the following options to apply for: Agricultural Workers Live-in Caregivers Lower-skilled Occupations and Higher-skilled Occupations.


TFWs are protected by the same labour laws as Canadian workers, including employment standards, workplace health and safety and Workman’s Compensation if they are injured.


Further, the foreign workers last year were paid less than other Canadian workers by as much as 15% of the other worker’s earnings. This resulted in thousands of Canadian workers being out of work.The law was changed and now the wages of the foreigners are to be comparable to the Canadian workers they are replacing.  There are 1.4 million employable Canadians currently out of work and despite that, over the past decade, the number or temporary foreign workers working in Canada has tripled. Shortly after the government made their so-call reforms in this particular aspect of employment, 347 people in Alberta lost their jobs working in restaurants and soon after that, as many as 1,261 foreign workers were doing the same work in the restaurants in Alberta.  If the federal government isn`t careful, there will be be more foreign workers working in Canada  than there are Canadian workers.  


The RBC’s chief human resources, officer Zabeen Hirji said, “We are working diligently to find suitable roles for those affected and it is our hope over the next few months to transition them to other positions.”  She said, “The bank is continuing to work with our employees to help them retrain, redeploy and go through that process” so they can transition to other positions.


These workers are trained in the investment business of the bank. Are they going to now work as bank tellers? If they are; the law is quite clear. They have to be paid the high salaries they received when they were investors for the bank which is much higher than a bank teller will ever get. But more importantly, who is going to replace them?  Suppose you trained to be in the investment business and you are successful in your work. Would you really want to go into another occupation that isn’t related at all to your training and experience in the field of investments?


Hirji clarified to The Canadian Press that the IT service duties performed by the 45 laid-off staffers were being taken over by the Bangalore-based outsourcing firm iGate—with which RBC has been working closely since 2005.  She added that the new arrivals weren’t employees of RBC per se. If they are each paid a salary by RBC even indirectly, then they are employees of the RBC. Further, they are employees of RBC because the bank will determine what they must do and also determine their work hours.


The foreign workers who are taking over the RBC work previously done by the fired Canadian employees in Toronto are employed by a multinational outsourcing firm from India —iGATE Corp. which has a contract with the bank to provide IT services. Since the bank is paying iGATE the money to pay the employees their salaries or wages, then the bank is indirectly paying the temporary employees from India their wages or salaries instead of paying the salaries or wages of the 45 Canadian employees they just fired.

RBC spokesperson Rina Cortese told Go Public that several foreign workers from iGATE will be working in the bank’s Toronto offices until 2015. By then, she said, most of the work will be transferred abroad, but a few of the foreigners will remain [with the bank in Canada] indefinitely.

Does this seem a legitimate way to do business in Canada? It is against federal rules for any company to bring foreign workers into Canada temporarily if it will put Canadian citizens out of work. Prime Minister, Harper said that temporary help should only be used im situations of absolute and acute labour shortages. That isn't what was applicable  in the RBC fiasco.  The program involving bringing in foreign workers is only supposed to apply where there are no qualified Canadain workers available to do the job. The RBC workers that were replaced by the foreign workers were qualified in their jobs while working at them for the bank.  

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Jason Kenney recently said, “The rules are very clear. You cannot displace Canadians to hire people from abroad.” That being as it is, it certainly appears that RBC has replaced 45 of its Canadian workers and brought in temporary foreign workers from abroad to take the place of the Canadians who were fired.  

How would you as a citizen of your country feel if you had a steady job and you were suddenly fired so that foreigners of another country can come in and take your job after you trained them?”

Let’s face reality. You can be sure as God made little apples that when the trained foreign workers return to India and do the same job that the fired workers were doing in Canada, the bank won’t have to pay them the same money they paid the fired workers.  RBC said the work is being outsourced for cost savings and efficiency. The bank’s shareholders will be so pleased that their CEO, Gord Nixon (who earned as much as $12.6 million in 2012 that is a raise from $10.1 million in 2011) has found a way to reduce the bank’s expenses so that its shareholders can reap higher returns for their investments.                                                                                                                                             

I appreciate that companies are sometimes forced to find cheaper ways to operate their businesses but RBC does not have a financial problem that is sinking them under the Red Sea. If they can pay their CEO $11 million dollars one year and $12 million dollars the fololowing year, the only reason why the bank is trying tio cut expenses is pure greed.

iGATE, that is a rapidly growing company with offices around the world, including Mississauga and Toronto, has been in trouble before over foreign worker hirings. In 2008, the multinational firm paid $45,000 to settle charges by the U.S. Department of Justice for discriminating against American citizens. iGATE was advertising jobs in the U.S. only for foreign workers  that  was  effectively  saying  that  Americans need not apply.

The federal government recently announced it is tightening rules for its Temporary Foreign Worker program because of criticism over foreigners taking jobs from Canadians. It is long overdue.


Shame on the Conservatives who run the federal government, shame on the companies that outsource their jobs to cut expenses at the expense of their former employees such as those fired by the Royal Bank of Canada and shame on that bank’s overpaid CEO, Gord Nixon. In my opinion, none of those so-called decent corporate citizens have Canadian’s best interests at heart because they are insensitive to the needs and welfare of the employees in Canada.  Oh, yes. Nixon apologized to the fired employees but that was only after the drubbing he got from the media.

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