Harper’s cleaning lady

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Working illegally

Paid cash under the table

It happened last fall at 24 Sussex, the prime minister’s official residence.

The woman, a single mom of Somalian origin with four kids, didn’t know Canadian labor laws too well.

She was working for a private firm on contract with the National Capital Commission. She was asked to go over to Harper’s residence to do dusting on an occasional basis for a couple of months.

She was told she had to be paid cash, no receipts, because it was a prime minister’s residence.

She had no employment insurance coverage, no sick leave, no holidays, no Canada pension plan, at times not even minimum wage. 

There’s no evidence Harper knew about it. He seldom talks to the hired help, in any case.  She was no different.

It was a Service Employees International Union rep who set her straight on her rights.  

The union had warned Labor Minister Rona Ambrose that cleaning firms working for the Harper government had employees working illegally.   Ambrose wasn’t interested. She shunted off the union.

Ironically, at the same time Harper had a cleaning lady work illegally in his home, back in the Commons, Harper and his Conservatives were making a big stink out of Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla over-working her cleaning lady at her Toronto home.

Dhalla may have been over-demanding but at least her cleaning lady was legal.

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