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Late paycheques draw ire of Cape Breton call centre workers

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2018-08-13 Tom Ayers
a black sign with green grass: Employees stood outside the Servicom building on Friday, looking at their phones to see whether their pay had gone through. © Tom Ayers/CBC Employees stood outside the Servicom building on Friday, looking at their phones to see whether their pay had gone through.

Employees at a call centre in Sydney, N.S., were up in arms on Friday after paycheques were late for the third time in a row.

More than a dozen workers milled around outside the Servicom building, checking their phones to see if their pay had gone through.

Some went home, some logged in to work but didn't take — or make — calls, and some worked. All said they were frustrated by repeated problems with late pay.

Jacqueline Mercer, whose shift wasn't scheduled to start until later in the day, said she was there to talk to colleagues and see what was happening.

She said many people pay their rent at the end of the month and schedule other bills for automatic payment in the middle of the month.

'It's pretty crazy'

"It's pretty crazy, because you come to work every day, you make sure you're there every day, you put your time in and you expect to get paid," Mercer said.

Mercer said one mistake would be understandable.

"But two pays in a row? And actually mine is like four pays in a row they've been totally messed up. It's very unprofessional. It's a bad way of doing business, and Cape Breton needs people that go to work, but they also want to get paid."

a man standing in front of a building: Jacqueline Mercer says her payments have been "messed up" for four pays in a row. © Tom Ayers/CBC Jacqueline Mercer says her payments have been "messed up" for four pays in a row.

John Young went inside to work his shift on Friday morning and left after finding out the paycheques were delayed again.

"I think it's sad that the Department of Labour doesn't come down or whatever," he said. "Is there a cash-flow problem? We demand to know who, what, where, when and why, and we're not getting any answers," he said.

He said there are upwards of 700 people at the business who depend on getting paid on time.

"I'm going home," he said. "Why should I work if I don't get paid for it? Old school. You pay me, I work. You don't pay me, I don't work."

a man standing in front of a car posing for the camera: John Young went inside to work his shift on Friday morning and left after finding out the paycheques were delayed again. © Tom Ayers/CBC John Young went inside to work his shift on Friday morning and left after finding out the paycheques were delayed again.

Todd Riley, Servicom's site manager, said he and other managers are in the same boat as the rest of the workers. He said the company is working with its outside payroll firm to find a solution.

Those paid directly by cheque were able to cash them, Riley said, but the direct deposit was held up because the company's transfer of funds to the U.S. payroll firm was delayed.

Funds have to be converted

Part of the delay was in converting from American to Canadian funds, he said.

"We're looking to actually solve this because I know we've been going through some different banking and different transactions, conversions and stuff like that, and really I was very perplexed this morning to wake up and see emails and see that this is being an issue," Riley said.

a man standing in front of a building: Servicom site manager Todd Riley says he and other managers are in the same boat as the rest of the workers. © Tom Ayers/CBC Servicom site manager Todd Riley says he and other managers are in the same boat as the rest of the workers.

Most employees should see their pay later today, he said, and the company is covering banking costs for the workers because of the delay.

But some employees said that still hasn't happened since the last time.

Riley said he would be talking to staff and reassuring them that the company is not going out of business.

"I think people realize it's like a relationship and something happens, something goes wrong, you don't automatically get a divorce," Riley said.

"You basically sit back and you try to work things out, and that's what we're going to do with our people, because they're fantastic workers and they are one of the reasons we've been here for 19 years."

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

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