Labour ministry data shows $15.7M in pending claims

Ram Sethu just wants his pay. The 56-year-old who supports his wife and children in India is still waiting for almost $2,000 in unpaid wages almost two years after quitting a restaurant job.

He did not get paid during the six weeks he worked for Tropical Nights restaurant in the Victoria Park and Danforth Aves. area from March to May 2006.


"I approached them and finally managed to get two cheques out of them, both of which bounced," said Sethu.

The Ministry of Labour ordered the restaurant to pay Sethu $1,877.20 in unpaid wages in January 2007 but he still has not received his pay after cheques sent to the ministry also bounced.

Debbie Sukhdeo, who owns Tropical Nights in its new location in the Dundas St. E. and Dixie Rd. area of Mississauga, said the old restaurant went bankrupt but she is working with a collection agency to pay Sethu his wages.

His story provides an example of what advocates say are weak points in the Employment Standards Act that is meant to protect workers in Ontario.

Sethu is one of 11,358 people who submitted a claim for unpaid wages in 2005-06, the last year for which data is available from the Ministry of Labour. Claims totalled $37 million but $15.7 million still hasn’t been paid. Only four companies and two directors were prosecuted.

"It highlights how the Ministry of Labour’s enforcement is totally breaking down and what price workers pay when that happens," said Sonia Singh from the Workers’ Action Centre.

call for more officers

  • The advocacy group is calling on the provincial government to hire 100 new employment standards enforcement officers and increase inspections to cover 10 per cent of all workplaces.