Reprehensible, despicable, abominable, anathema?
Anathema, best begins to reflect the contempt I hold those who prey upon the poor in; a behaviour that is unfortunately neither unusual nor that rare in Abbotsford.
I spent time on July 31 paying rent and other bills which left me broke but secure for another month. I could do this because the monies due me were in fact deposited in my bank account.
I spent time on August 1 explaining to a gentleman what the rules were and what he needed to do to get a bed in the shelter that evening. He found himself in need of a bed at the emergency shelter because monies due him had not been paid. Sadly he was not the only person finding themselves in a bad situation because this “employer” had not paid people the wages they were due.
One of the other people who were on this job had been at the shelter when this “employment opportunity” came his way. Had been at the shelter because, with the long hours they were working, he had not returned to the shelter in order not to lose this “job” and the opportunity it represented to earn enough money to be able to afford an apartment and to start to get his feet back under him.
In doing the demolition on what had been the Grand Theatre in the Clearbrook Town Square Mall on South Fraser Way in Abbotsford they had been labouring hard 14+ hours a day to be done by the deadline.
These were not the only two victims who had the rug pulled out from under them once the job was finished. The friend I was sitting beside on August 1 had been telling me about others who had also been left owed a thousand plus dollars of wages for this job. After the gentleman had left my friend gave me a ‘what are you going to do about this’ look – a look he is very good at.
The people hired to do the hard labour during the demolition were homeless or poor in need of the money for rent so as not to join the growing ranks of homeless on Abbotsford’s streets or to get off the streets into housing.
They are each owed $1,000+ apiece and have been told there is no money to pay them what is owed, that they may get 25% of what they earned. Often in these circumstances they get nothing. Or only get the small “advances” given by the “kind, understanding” boss to keep them coming back and working hard.
To quote Samuel Butler: Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.
This kind of behaviour is why temporary labour agencies have long lines of workers at their doors – better to get minimum wage and actually be paid than to “earn” double the minimum wage but never see a cent.
The poor and homeless are seen as powerless victims who, lacking power, are helpless to do anything about collecting the monies owed them. Prey to be exploited to line someone’s pockets.
In this instance, even if they thought about filing a lien, could they fill out the paperwork and then file their class action suit in small claims court?
Except … for a certain ‘what are you going to do about this’ look. I told my friend to pass along the fact that we can, should, will file a lien to get their money. That I can and will help them fill out the paperwork and file their lien to get the monies they earned through hard work if necessary.
If city council feels the need to pull business licenses or deny the ability to do business in Abbotsford they should apply this principle to those who prey on the poor and powerless, not just to those who annoy the powerful. They should be telling those who seek wealth by preying on the poor that this is not an acceptable business practice in Abbotsford.