Labour groups allege workers at Canadian Tire supplier factories paid poverty wages

OTTAWA — Canadian labour groups have filed a complaint with a federal corporate watchdog saying Canadian Tire failed to ensure workers in its South Asian supplier factories are paid a living wage.

The Canadian Labour Congress and the United Steelworkers Union filed the complaint with the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise on Monday.

They allege that workers in Bangladeshi garment factories that supply Canadian Tire subsidiary Mark's with clothing sold under brand names like Wind River, Denver Hayes, Dakota, and Helly Hansen are paid poverty-level wages.

Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity, says workers live in overcrowded housing and struggle to feed their families despite working as much as six days a week and 12 hours a day.

She says the garment workers earn wages so low they cannot escape poverty and live "one step away from abject poverty."

Canadian Tire says it works to ensure that its suppliers comply with all local laws, including compensation.

"As part of our activities to ensure compliance, (Canadian Tire) regularly tracks wage rates and works with reputable third parties to audit factories that manufacture our owned brand products," the company said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Marty Warren, Canadian national director of the United Steelworkers Union, alleges that Canadian Tire's suppliers contravene international human rights standards.

"The women and men employed in Bangladesh garment factories like those used by Mark's and Canadian Tire live in poverty," he said during a news conference.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CTC.A, TSX:CTC)

The Canadian Press