Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Gordon Campbell's Liberals running boiler rooms?

The Straight has uncovered what appears to be another unseemly Gordon Campbell Liberal party phone caper. Last week The Straight discovered the BC Liberals or a major supporter of the Liberals has been employing push-poll technics. This type of polling is really advertising for the political organization that is using it. The callers read out leading questions meant to show one party as good and the other as bad, to put it simply.

The "polling" (use the term polling with a grain of salt people) masquerade as a legitamete polling company. The person receiving the call is not told the caller is working for a political party. Elections BC states that this type of activity would be classed as advertsing if done during an election. Read more here.

Today the Straight is reporting another new developing voter contact scandal for the BC Liberals. The scandal is not so much in the voter contact but in the way the employees are being treated according to sources previously employed by Total Impact.

The Straight exposes the BC Liberals have contracted with people well known in BC Liberal backrooms to call voters in BC.

"Total Impact Communications Incorporated, owned at least in part by J.P. Shason, a long-time financial and political supporter and a personal friend of Premier Gordon Campbell. Shason is listed as the only director and officer for the company in corporate records." - The Straight
J.P. Shason was contracted by the BC Liberals to produce a controversial mail out from the Campbell Liberals using Legislative funds prior to the last election. The contract was for over $700,000.00 of taxpayer money.

Here is what The Straight has to say about the working conditions the BC Liberal's contractor subjects its workers too ...

"According to the discontented callers, 80 phoners work daily at Total Impact for $9 an hour in four-hour shifts in two “crap hole” rooms nicknamed “Echo” and “Foxtrot”. In total, about 200 to 300 individual callers are employed part-time and full-time and turnover is high. The phone room uses an expensive “predictive dialer” to maximize calling efficiency, but the computers being used to input the data are in poor condition and running on Windows 98 operating systems.

Total Impact may be in violation of government taxation and employment regulations because its callers, according to the sources, are told by the company that they are “independent contractors” and, therefore, no employment-insurance premiums, Canada Pension Plan or Workers Compensation Board contributions, or taxes are deducted from their paycheques.

Former B.C. Employment Standards Branch regional director Dave Ages told the straight thathaving done hundreds of investigations on independent contractors, there seems no doubt the phone-room callers are actually employees.

“From what you’ve told me and knowing about boiler-room operations, there’s no question they are employees, not independent contractors,” Ages said, adding that the phone-room workers are being denied the four-percent vacation pay that employees are entitled to, as well as possibly missing statutory holidays and overtime.

Read more of Bill Tieleman's report at The Straight. The Straight reports that they will have more on this developing scandal next week.

You can find more on the BC Liberals, Gordon Campbell and the BC election using the technorati search box in the side bar to the right.

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