Driver protests against unpaid wages continue in Peel

Truck drivers are continuing to confront employers over unpaid wages, taking to the streets in the Region of Peel, Ont. with their supporters.

Driver Amrish Dutta said an Ontario-based company withheld his wages while the pandemic was raging. The father of two, who lives in Brampton, said the issue was resolved through third-party mediation as well as community peer pressure.

“Every driver and owner-operator should ensure they review their employment contract,” said Dutta who now works for a different fleet and is happy with the way he is being treated and paid. “This should be an essential exercise similar to a pre-trip inspection before joining any fleet.”

People protesting against unpaid wages in Brampton, Ont.
People protest unpaid wages outside an employer’s office in Mississauga, Ont. on Oct. 30. (Photo: Fateh Media 5)

People gathered outside a company’s office in a peaceful protest on Oct. 30, said Nahar Aujla, a social activist. He said the employer sent employees out, and they started abusing and heckling the protesters. He said loud music was also played to drown out the protesters.

Aujla said a truck began moving toward the protesters and claims that people were close to being run over. Videos circulating on social media show police officers removing an individual from the vehicle, surrounded by protesters.

Constable Himmet Gill, Peel Regional Police, says that he is aware of the protests about unpaid wages.

“They were raising awareness about the issue they faced. They were respectful to police officers that showed up and they let them know why they were protesting,” Gill said.

He said the protesters were not harassing anybody and they have freedom of speech. “They were not being a nuisance,” he said.

“There is no room for threats or violence.”

Amrish Dutta, truck driver

Aujla said protesters subsequently held a meeting with the employer, who agreed to pay the drivers a percentage of what was owed.

Today’s Trucking reported an incident in July, where a trucker along with his supporters protested outside the home of an employer, claiming he was owed more than $5,000 in wages.

Driver Dutta says employees and employers need to communicate to avoid misunderstandings and company owners should ensure there is a suitable mechanism in place to address concerns in a fair and timely manner.

“There is no room for threats or violence. The workplace should be cordial and adhere to labor law,” he said.

People supporting the transport companies were present during the protest on Oct. 30 in Brampton. Ont. (Photo: Fateh Media 5)
People supporting the transport companies were present during the protest on Oct. 30 in Mississauga, Ont. (Photo: Fateh Media 5)

Aujla says some employers force drivers to open their companies. “This is misclassification. They are employees, they don’t own trucks or trailers or have a right to fix their work hours. They get a pay cheque in the name of the company they set up.”

The social activist says he educates drivers about not opening their incorporated companies. He said newcomers to the industry and the country sometimes don’t have a choice. Employers don’t mention this in writing but encourage them to open companies. “Then they don’t have to pay if a driver gets sick or injured,” Aujla said.

Cst. Gill said since the issue is about unpaid wages, it is a civil matter and not a criminal one. The police force educates employees about their rights and responsibilities. “We let them know about getting into business and knowing your right as an employee,” he said.

Aujla said some smaller companies hire new or less experienced drivers, and when they have an accident, insurance premiums skyrocket. They pass the cost of the premiums on to the drivers, he said.

Pay docked

He also said some companies deduct the cost of fuel when drivers keep their vehicles running to stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer.

The trucking industry is facing a shortage of drivers, and Dutta feels the protests will add to the problem. He said the outcry over unpaid wages discourages newcomers from joining the profession. He said people should be aware of the problems they may face before they join the industry. He suggests the MELT program should include classes on employment and labor law, with real-life examples of problems and solutions.

Social media posts being circulated within the Punjabi trucking community are awash with pictures and videos of protests. Some name and shame individuals and companies. Another protest is planned in the first week of December. This issue is not going away anytime soon.

Leo Barros is the associate editor of Today’s Trucking. He has been a journalist for more than two decades, holds a CDL and has worked as a longhaul truck driver. Reach him at leo@newcom.ca

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  • Thanks for covering this Leo. I am sure you know there is a much bigger issue here… “Driver Inc”, is a punishment to all employers whom contribute to withholdings and all tax payors. Not the least of which are, Driver Inc’s non contributions to EHT and other withholding requirements under provincial and federal laws. No Driver Inc person, or their respective family members are refused at tax payor funded hospitals (and I am not saying they should), yet, Driver Inc participants, nor the companies that promote/harbor Driver Inc practices do not contribute to EHT, WSIB, UI, CPP etc… Thanks for spreading this information.

    Please keep up the fight.
    All the best,
    Angelo Pernasilici
    President
    Laser Transport Inc.

  • Good for you guys keep protesting for wages and responsibilities of these companies they should be looking after us drivers better this business of saving fuel is ridiculous when it’s -18 outside and the company doesn’t want you to run your truck to keep warm they depend on the bunk heater which is not the best heat no wonder drivers get sick on a road. And do not incorporate yourself to work for the company thank you keep up the good work drivers speak up against these big companies that are ripping us drivers off take care out there stay healthy.

  • Just shut it down with covid still a risk to us all isolate for 14 days the government then will the government open there deff ears and listen this is the only legal way to get anything done protests lead to nothing but broken promises from our irresponsible government.Truck drivers are still operating on wages from 1970 time to show us some respect for all we do.

    Signed Jason Rossignol A.K.A COOKIE MONSTER

  • Driver inc tax cheats, cheated out of money looking for sympathy. Pay what you owe like every other working taxpayer and maybe we will see about getting your unpaid wages back for you., after taxes deducted of course!

  • I worked with a Trucking Company in Brampton for one year
    The owner did not pay my wages for 2 months. I filed a claim with theFederal labour ministry. The claim of $ 8000 is still not been paid. Pl call

    My ph no is 905 965 4933.
    The trucking company should be banned from operating since they have not paid many drivers and kept their wages.
    Regards,
    Balbir.

    • Same thing happened to me by a company that hauls uranium out Saskatoon 5 years after I was hit from behind spent over 7000 in legal. Been homeless since and disabled.

  • My God !!!
    I embarrassed to say so, but I had no idea that any company treated their drivers like that.
    Admittedly I sat here in disbelief when I read that drivers get charged back for fuel costs to keep warm or cool, and I was flabbergasted when I read the next line that said insurance premium increases were passed on to drivers that had an accident. I actually had to ask a colleague if I was reading that correctly.
    Perhaps those drivers that are working for those sketchy companies should just quit them outright. Let them die on the vine. Go to work for companies that appreciate your efforts with proper pay, and benefits, and incentives, along with newer, reliable equipment, in a safe and healthy work environment. An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

    Michael Ludwig
    Operations Manager
    Ludwig Transport Limited

  • Well well well…..how’s that “Driver Inc” scheme working out for you now. Hard to sympathize with tax cheats.Karma is a bitch!