Toronto worker blows whistle over low wages and immediately loses job
A former employee at a Canada Goose manufacturing facility near Toronto is trying to raise awareness about working conditions after posting a TikTok protesting low wages and subsequently losing her job.
TikToker Chantal Belisle shared a post in late October about her experiences working at Canada Goose.
A few days later, her employment was terminated on grounds she claims are "a load of BS," and she's using the experience to shed public light on the plight of skilled labourers working in the factories of one of Canada's largest brands.
Possibly hoping to avoid another controversy, Canada Goose suggests that the TikTok post and Belisle's firing were unrelated events, telling blogTO that while the company is unable to legally address specific employment cases, "we can confirm that no action was taken against Canada Goose employees in relation to social media."
Belisle tells blogTO a very different story, saying that after two months employed at the facility, and while still under a three-month probationary period, "I made a TikTok last week about working at Canada Goose and how their wages are absurdly low and then today I got fired because I wasn't 'efficient' enough."
She claims that the company's wages are paid based on the pace workers are able to sew garments, explaining that "there's a set pace you need to sew at and then if you sew at over 100 per cent efficiency you should make that money over minimum wage."
But Belisle says that the efficiency rate was set several years ago when the minimum wage was still set at $11 per hour, claiming that workers must sew at a ludicrous 150 per cent efficiency rate to make even a penny over minimum wage.
"The average person with six months of experience sews at 80 per cent efficiency."
Canada Goose argues this point, saying that "it is not 150 per cent efficiency. 100 - 110 per cent is the efficiency rate at which employees begin earning above minimum wage."
Belisle also suggests that there are "a lot of interesting things to report in regards to manufacturing at Canada Goose," and claims that the company is "taking advantage of the skilled labour of immigrant women."
She says that roughly 300 people work floor-level at the facility, and "it is all women and mostly newly landed immigrants who don't speak English."
"I think there's an interesting discussion to be had about how these $1,800 coats are being made 'ethically,' but what does that really mean? If they are paying the absolute least they can, and are treating this highly skilled labour as if it's unskilled, how is this ethical?"
A representative of Canada Goose addressed the concerns to blogTO, saying that the company "believes pay transparency is essential to establishing respect and trust within our teams, which is why we provide a clear understanding of what goes into our pay structure and how to achieve accelerations within it."
The representative explains that "as with many manufacturing businesses, rate of pay is based on performance – with an opportunity to accelerate earnings through efficiency," adding that average pay is in the range of $17 to $19 per hour, "with some making $35 an hour – where the majority of our employees earn more – some significantly more – than minimum wage."
Canada Goose maintains that under the company's collective agreement with its employee union, "if an employee on probation is not able to meet a baseline performance level, or not progressing, following the completion of like our training program, any employee, in that case, may be subject to employment action or termination."
As to concerns about the company's use and treatment of skilled labourers from abroad, they state that Canada Goose "take pride in the workplace we offer, the talent we employ and the investment we place in paid training which equips many unemployed, underemployed and immigrant community members with in-demand skills and job opportunities."
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