May 26, 2022

It has racked up almost a million views on TikTok, a brief exchange filmed on a sunny Brampton day.

The video shows a group of young truck drivers clustered at the foot of a driveway. A man in a white button-down shirt emerges from his suburban home and is presented with a letter: some 16 workers are owed money, a driver says, and are fed up with delays and unreturned phone calls. They are ready to protest if necessary, they tell the man. That’s when the mood shifts.

“Whoever comes here to protest won’t end up leaving,” the man, who is not identified in the video, responds in Punjabi.

The clip is one of several encounters between truck drivers and companies caught on camera by members of the Naujawan Support Network, a group of Brampton-area workers who say they are mobilizing against a mounting crisis: wage theft.

In trucking, critics call it a pattern of systemic abuse — one that risks livelihoods and safety, according to court records, data analysis and interviews with almost 20 drivers, lawyers and trucking experts.

Over the past three years, long-haul truckers have lodged more than 4,800 complaints to Employment and Social Development Canada for unpaid wages and other employment abuses. That is more than 12 times the number filed in any other federally regulated sector, though truckers make up less than a fifth of that workforce.

But since introducing a new penalties regime this year, the federal labour department hasn’t issued a single fine to trucking…

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