Employment Standards complaints against One Ocean Expeditions almost double | Squamish Chief

Employment Standards complaints against One Ocean Expeditions almost double

The Squamish company has said it's been talking with potential partner to restructure business

 As One Ocean Expedition cruises continue to be cancelled, the number of complaints alleging the company failed to pay wages has almost doubled.

 Two days after the company announced the cancellation of its Dec. 1 trip, the Ministry of Labour told The Chief that 37 complaints — up from 19 — have been filed with the Employment Standards Branch.

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 In a statement issued on Nov. 26, the ministry said the complaints are coming from employees of the company. An officer has been assigned to the case, and an investigation is ongoing.

 However, the head of One Ocean has said that he's working on a "solution" to the corporation's financial woes.

 A letter with the company letterhead posted online by customers and a travel agency notes that the business is continuing to restructure.

 "Our recent efforts at restructuring our business have been going well and we are in advanced discussions now with a qualified potential partner to rebuild our business," reads the letter, signed by the head of the company, Andrew Prossin.

 "However, some facets of the restructuring have created complications that will keep us from operating your voyage. Again, please accept our apologies."

 In the message, Prossin encourages customers to contact their insurance provider.

 Save for the fact that he is working on trying to save the company, little other details have surfaced.

 "A number of people have been working very hard on a solution to this difficult and regrettable situation," Prossin told The Chief on Nov. 15.

 "A solution is very close, and we just need the time to see if we can get that across the line," he said at the time.

 He declined to comment further, and has not responded to subsequent requests for comment made via phone, email and Facebook. The Chief has knocked on the door of the business, but no one answers.

 The rooms are dark on the first floor, but lights have seen on the second floor.

 Meanwhile, at least some customers and contractors have been left with their hands open.

 For one customer, Prossin's words haven't been reassuring.

 "That's either a genuine update, which is very vague, or it's just stalling — I don't know which one," said John De Silva, who bought a trip for two.

 "It doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy….We don't want to lose $24,000 [USD]."

 De Silva's voyage, slated for February 2020, was scheduled to be on the RCGS Resolute, which still remains docked in Buenos Aires.

 An Argentine federal judge has ordered the ship to stay in port due to a significant debt, CBC News reported.

 The company's other two ships were recalled by their owners earlier this year due to a financial dispute.

 Customers aren't the only ones left looking for answers.

 Annie Novoa of Remarkable Clean says that her cleaning company is owed more than $3,000 by One Ocean.

 Documents she provided to The Chief state that the tourism operator did not pay four invoices worth of work done from August to October.

 On Oct. 24, One Ocean asked to put a pause on the office cleaning services and said an update regarding payment would be given at a later date, Novoa said.

 However, since then, One Ocean has been silent on the matter, she said.

 Novoa said she doesn't know what will happen to the money, which represents about half a pay cycle's worth of wages for the company. She says the missing cash will prevent her from giving her staff Christmas bonuses this year.

 Novoa said that while the case has drawn international attention, it's had a big local effect too.

 "Just because it was an international big company it doesn't mean that the little people were not affected," she said. "We were as well."

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