Undercover in Temp Nation - Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy - Toronto Star

Undercover in Temp Nation - Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy - Toronto Star

by: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Brendan Kennedy | publication date: September 8, 2017 | Publication: Toronto Star |

"There are two dozen of us crowded around a conveyor belt, bodies twisting to snatch dough off the line. The floor is strewn with raw pastries that seem to accumulate faster than anyone can sweep them up. They collect in bloated masses at our feet.

 

It is my first day as a temp at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery that reeks of yeast and is alive with the constant drone of machinery.

 

We are forming and packing raw, circular pastry dough into wet plastic trays - a shoulder-crunching task called pinching. These may well be the croissants you eat for breakfast.

 

Supervisors shout at us to wake up. They shout at us to move faster, pinch nicer, work harder. No one talks through the noise and exhaustion.

 

The factory relies heavily on temporary help agency workers. Its health and safety record is checkered; three temps have died here or at Fiera's affiliated companies since 1999.

 

Across the province, more and more people are relying on temp agencies to find work. When they do, statistics show they are more likelly to get hurt on the job.

 

I am undercover to investigate why." 

Amina Diaby died last year in an accident inside one of the GTA’s largest industrial bakeries where, the company says, worker safety is its highest concern. The 23-year-old was one of thousands of Ontarians who have turned to temporary employment agencies to find jobs that often come with low pay and little training for sometimes dangerous work. The Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover for a month at the factory where Diaby worked.

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