British Columbia

Pemberton Music Festival security guards still owed thousands from 2015 event

The Employment Standards Branch of B.C. says 13 people have not been paid a total of $38,386.25.

'Not receiving our wages owed would be devastating,' said one unpaid guard

Festival organizers say all vendors have been paid in full and it is not responsible for individual security personnel. (Rob Loud)

As the Pemberton Music Festival gets underway, some security guards who worked at last year's event say they are still owed money.

Festival organizers contract out security services to a vendor. That company then hires individual guards and is responsible for paying them.

A letter from the Employment Standards Branch of B.C. indicates 13 people have not been paid a total of $38,386.25.

The document, written February 4, 2016 , says the branch has determined Jonathan David Brainerd, director and officer of Essential Protective Services Corporation, must personally pay the unpaid wages plus interest.

"If payment is not received by the end of the appeal period noted below, additional interest will accrue," the letter said.

One of the security guards referenced in the letter spoke with CBC but did not want his name used over fear of losing current or future employment.

He says he put in 199 hours of work over 13 days at last year's festival after being hired by Essential Protective Services Corporation.

"The plan [was] to do a 12 or 13 hour shift but depending on requirements that could end up being 14 hours, 15 hours, 16 hours and going in most of us are prepared [for] that," he said. 

"But to not get paid for doing 15 hours just adds to the frustration. I did all that for nothing so that's where it's like I agreed to this, but I also agreed to this because they agreed to pay me."

The guard says he's personally owed more than $6,000 for his work at the event, but the unpaid amount varies for each of the 13 guards who filed the complaint.

Festival organizers say all vendors have been paid

Last year's event drew in more than 115,000 fans and featured nearly 120 performances over four days.

Teresa Trovato does public relations for the festival, and in a statement she said the festival has the highest standards in hiring and vetting of security vendors for the event.

"We have paid all of our 2015 vendors for services provided in full and, in fact, all active suppliers and supervisors entered a bidding process to work with us again this year," she said in a statement on behalf of Huka Entertainment.

"It is important to note we do not hire, schedule or pay individual security personnel and certainly do not condone or support the overworking of anyone, including staff who work directly for us, or from our vendors who supply services to the festival," the statement said.

This year's event runs from Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, July 17 and Trovato says Huka Entertainment has chosen not to rehire the security company in question.

Unable to locate funds

Another letter from the Employment Standards Branch, dated April 12, 2016, says a writ for seizure and sale was filed at B.C. Supreme Court and then sent to the court bailiff for collection.

"The bailiff has been unable to locate funds or assets which could be seized to satisfy the writ. For this reason, no further action can be taken and your file will be closed," the letter said.

The Branch says the determination is enforceable for ten years. 

"If at any time, you become aware of information that may assist the Branch to recover your unpaid wages, please forward it to my attention as further collection efforts may be made," the letter said.

Guards still have hope

Despite knowing festival organizers have already paid for last year's security, the guard who spoke with CBC hopes they will help out.

"Who else should we rely on except the promoter that runs a multi-million dollar festival." 

The man also wants steps taken to ensure other don't have to deal with the same problem.

"We don't want to see this happen to any other guards in the future."

​Attempts by CBC to contact Essential Protective Services Corporation were unsuccessful.  Emails have not been returned and the number listed on the company's website is no longer valid.

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