A little history about me I've been living below the poverty line for over 30 years.
My story will start from last year 2016, in real time to June 2017 + and I'll update it as things and time change.
Last year 2016 in Dec, the place I was working was shutting down for the winter. I quit to move closer to town as I was living in a remote area and travel into the city was not always available . Because I quit and had savings I did not qualify for Employment Insurance or Social services .
Because of my situation of having rent covered as a part of my work situation I was able to save over 20 K over 3 years and put half of that towards securing a dentist. leaving me with 10 K to live off of . The 10 K I put down on the dentist was enough to get the huge amount of work done that I needed including dentures.
I left the job as it was going to be shut down for 6 months anyways to head to a bigger town where I could get my dentistry done and look for work. with my savings I budgeted 1k per month to live off of giving me about 10 months of living from Jan - Oct , with the idea of getting a job before I ran out of my savings .
I had to pay for an extra course to get a certificate to get employment which was an unexpected cost, as these courses are not covered for working poor unless they are in a program, that they have to be unemployed to qualify for or in a certain group . Anyways from Jan to May I was doing volunteering to have a working reference and upgrading my resume.
I finally found some work, at the end of may, at min wage which is currently $10.85 hr. It's June 2017 now and I've been working steady for a couple weeks so far. I was excited but after the first week some things have come up that I have to question.
1rst The staff is working over 5 hours with only a short break of 15 mins and most days are 7 hours + long with only a 15 min break. Labor law says that a 30 min unpaid break has to be taken after 5 hours .
2nd, we were given a uniform that the employer expects us to keep clean at our expense. ( If an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform or special clothing, the employer must provide, clean and maintain it at no cost to the employee.) this cost me $5 dollars a day for laundry . I've been working every day now for the last 2 weeks straight with a cost of $70 in laundry so far to me.
This is a large organization and there are 1000's of people and they are all ok with this. I feel I risk the chance of getting let go if I was to mention to management these labor law infractions . Without having passed the probationary time the company doesn't have to give a reason to let me go.
Do I get an advocate for support ? I don't want to work for a company that I had to pressure to get my basic employee rights taken care of , that just makes for a very uncomfortable working environment. Yet at the same time I'm caught with only enough savings to live off of for about 3 more months, and no chance at getting EI or Social Assistance if I get let go. I've sent an email to head office asking about their employee policies on breaks and uniforms and am waiting for a response.
Consultation has concluded