Wages get a bump as jobs go unfilled

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by Emily Atkins

TORONTO – Vision Transportation Systems is hiring, but nobody is applying.

According to general manager Aaron Lalvani, “after the announcement from the government on Monday, essentially our competition for labour now is our government. Who wants to come to work when they can make $750 bucks a week at home?”

The third-party logistics supplier has distribution centres in Belleville, Brampton and Milton, Ontario, and is trying to fill about eight temporary warehouse positions in Milton, Lalvani said.

Under pandemic protocols, the company has about 30 percent of its office staff working from home, but the rest are keeping business moving, both in the office and the distribution centres.

In the event that movement is restricted by the authorities Vision has prepared a letter for staff to carry, saying that they are expected at work.

“We’re all new at this,” Lalvani says. “Nobody really knows what to do next. We’re just trying to do our best and hope they can get us back to work soon.”

To keep workers safe the company has implemented pandemic protocols which include keeping proper distance between staff, preventing any unauthorized individuals out of facilities, and requiring drivers dropping freight to stay in the truck. In addition they are keeping doors locked and where paperwork needs to move between the office and DC floor, it gets dropped in a room between the two parts of the facility. “We are doing as much as we can to make sure interactions between people are minimized,” Lalvani said.

In an effort to support its workers the company’s owners have given all staff a $250 bonus this month. “I’ve been talking to our managers about encouraging staff,” Lalvani says. “We’re in the third week of this and not seeing it alleviating any time soon. We’ve got to keep morale up.”

Other companies are making similar moves, with cold storage provider VersaCold announcing on March 30 a $2 increase in hourly wages for its warehouse workers and $100 a week for truck drivers who work a minimum of 40 hours. The measures are retroactive to March 22 and will continue until further notice, the company said in a statement.