Legal Aid Services & Support
BCWS provides free legal aid and counseling services for workers facing problems inside the factory
Common issues include wage theft, forced or unlawful termination, and non-payment of dues. BCWS’ legal department currently has three part-time lawyers. These lawyers help workers file labor dispute cases in the labor court for issues such as unpaid severance, overtime and violations of paid maternity leave policies. Workers can also use the BCWS office address for their legal dealings with the factories, which gives weight to the complaints and shields the workers from repercussions. BCWS lawyers provide mediation services that bring together factory lawyers, representatives, and the workers to discuss together and resolve disputes.
Fighting back against false legal cases
One of the crucial areas of BCWS’ work is providing legal support to workers who face falsified criminal charges. Increasingly in recent years, the government and factory owners have filed baseless charges against workers in retaliation for their efforts to organize for workplace improvements. This tactic has also been used against the principal leaders of BCWS and BGIWF. Workers implicated in these cases often lack both the financial resources and legal knowledge necessary to fight the charges and can face multi-year sentences if convicted. In these instances, BCWS provides bail money to release workers from jail and helps fund their legal defense. In the short-term, BCWS’ efforts in this area have helped keep many innocent workers out of jail. In the long-term, the organization is focused on curbing the use of this tactic by the government and factory owners.