The Murphy Group and its Unpaid Workers

There are many galling aspects of the Murphy Group’s plan to staff their music festival food concession with unpaid labour, but here are the three most egregious:

First, by securing the concession by bidding low on the contract (what with having no wage costs and all), the company acted in an anti-competitive fashion, leaving more public-spirited businesses that actually put value on workers out of the running.

Second, the company insults the thousands of volunteers doing actual volunteer work every day across PEI by using the word volunteer to describe unpaid workers: volunteering isn’t about “doing work without getting paid,” it’s about contributing to the community in a meaningful way. It is a matter of the heart, not of the pocketbook.

Finally — and this galls me the most — businesses often do stupid, ugly or disingenuous things based on the notion that they are, at least, creating “jobs and opportunities for islanders.” And more often than not we citizens blindly look the other way: it’s hard to argue with putting food on the table of our friends and neighbours. By removing the pesky obligation of wage costs and other annoyances of being an employer from the equation the Murphy Group is simply engaging in a bald-faced money-grab, and is revelaing, perhaps, that they view their of actual employees is as a inconvenient but (sometimes) necessary obligation on their road to self-aggrandizement.

They should do the right thing, pay employees a fare wage, and apologize for this bungle.


Jedidja's picture
Jedidja on June 13, 2009 - 17:33 Permalink

Definitely; it’s a travesty.

L.'s picture
L. on June 13, 2009 - 21:09 Permalink

When you pay your employees next to nothing, seems like the next logical step wages on PEI are the lowest in the country already and workers cannot live on the minimum wage let alone no wage — the attitude of employer’s toward workers as exhibited by CFIB and others criticizing an increase in minimum wage of only 20 cents was incredible enough — I guess the Murphy’s spent all their PNP money already and next to subsidize themselves by having “Volunteers”

Willow's picture
Willow on June 14, 2009 - 12:53 Permalink

This is not a new endeavor by the Murphy’s. When my kids were teens they worked for free at the Festival of Lights for a few years and never made a cent. They were told they could hear the bands for free and they would get tips. They worked long days and nights at this venue for free and both were employee’s of the Murphy Group.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on June 15, 2009 - 16:03 Permalink

Well said. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 19, 2009 - 23:28 Permalink

A clarification from the Murphy Group: no volunteers at the food service, only in the beer tent, which is being run for charity.