Volunteer bakers create a slippery slope

Re: Bakery volunteer pitch sparks controversy (The News, Aug 9), If the purpose of the position is to create a potential future paying position, then it should be considered as such and be valued for what it is,

Re: Bakery volunteer pitch sparks controversy (The News, Aug 9),

If the purpose of the position is to create a potential future paying position, then it should be considered as such and be valued for what it is, an apprenticeship; this would benefit the “volunteer” and the employer.

There are many programs with the college or Yukon government that the employer could participate in. If the position is for purely recreational purposes, then it should be a pay-to-learn position, again in conjunction with the college or territory. It would benefit the employer, the trainee and the community.

However, to use an unpaid volunteer with the proverbial carrot, (potential job) on a stick to help during a busy time or season is a bit disingenuous; market it anyway you like, free labour would no doubt help the bottom line and profit.

It should be noted that a commercial bakery is not a safe working environment. There are many situations that can cause potential injuries: falls, soft tissue and/or skeletal damage, cuts, burns up to the loss of limbs from machinery. From what we understand, the WCB has stated that it would not cover this person as they are not paid. I would contest that the volunteer part of the position is mute if one is paid in kind.

To receive goods, i.e. breads, pastries etc, that have a marketed value is indeed a payment/wage for work performed, and interestingly without the usual employment benefits being paid, surely a concern to government authorities. As such, the WCB could find itself liable in compensating the individual in the case of an accident and one can imagine that it would put Mr. Tuzlak’s business under serious jeopardy.

No one is attacking or targeting Mr.Tuzlak, as one would surmise from a recent letter to the editor praising his ethics, morality and business practices. And to be honest most of us with concerns were taken aback as we agree with those praises, as he has, is and continues to contribute to the Whitehorse community. And though we all understand his initial idea in “hiring” a volunteer – really what harm could there be, as such a position would be mutually beneficial to both parties? – the unfortunate reality is that it could, and no doubt would, set a precedent that would be mimicked by some businesses, be they small mom-and-pop stores or multinational chains who may not have the same altruistic motives. To answer the letter to editor dated August 16, there is no regret in protecting workers’ rights.

Louis R. Gagnon

Whitehorse