Monthly Archives: March 2010

TEMP FOREIGN WORKERS TAKE THE FALL AGAIN FOR FARMERS AND GOVERNMENT

LES TRAVAILLEURS ÉTRANGERS TEMPORAIRES SUBISSENT LES CONTRECOUPS DE LA
POLITIQUE DES EXPLOITANTS AGRICOLES ET DU GOUVERNEMENT

Alors que neuf travailleurs ont été arrêtés, le gouvernement Harper et
l’industrie agricole « sont complices d’un système conçu pour exploiter les
travailleurs étrangers et ensuite s’en débarrasser », affirme le dirigeant
national des TUAC Canada

TORONTO ­ L’arrestation et la détention de neuf travailleurs étrangers
temporaires en Ontario « est l’exemple le plus récent que le gouvernement
Harper et l’industrie agricole sont tous les deux complices d’un système
conçu pour exploiter les travailleurs étrangers et ensuite s’en débarrasser
», affirme Wayne Hanley, le président national des TUAC Canada.

Les travailleurs sont des ressortissants thaïlandais qui sont entrés au
Canada dans le cadre du Programme des travailleurs étrangers temporaires
(PTÉT) du gouvernement fédéral. Ils ont été mis en arrestation près de
l’exploitation agricole de Sarnia où ils étaient employés.

Les TÉT bénéficient généralement d’un permis de travail de deux ans, mais
un système clandestin de courtiers en emploi lié à l’industrie agricole
permet à ces travailleurs de continuer à travailler « au noir » après
l’expiration de leur visa. Les neuf TÉT arrêtés près de Sarnia sont détenus
dans un centre de détention de Toronto. L’Agence des services frontaliers du
Canada (ASFC) a confirmé qu’ils ont été arrêtés « pour une infraction
apparente de la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés. »

« Ce qui est vraiment violé ici, ce sont les droits de la personne de ces
travailleurs », commente M. Hanley. « Le gouvernement fédéral encourage les
exploitants agricoles à importer des TÉT, en particulier parce que ces
travailleurs n¹ont pratiquement aucun statut et qu¹ils échappent aux mesures
de protection en milieu de travail. »

« En privant délibérément ces travailleurs du statut de résidence
permanente, le Programme des TÉT se trouve à encourager la traite de
personnes », ajoute M. Hanley. « Ceci est démontré par le fait qu’alors que
des douzaines de travailleurs ont été arrêtés l¹année dernière, aucun
exploitant agricole ou courtier en emploi n’a encore été condamné de violer
la loi pour avoir embauché ces travailleurs et les avoir payés sous la table
».

« Les récentes arrestations n’ont rien à voir avec la justice, et tout avec
la politique », poursuit M. Hanley. « Ces tactiques sont destinées à
terroriser tous les TÉT afin de les rendre vulnérables. À peine les victimes
de ces tactiques sont-elles renvoyées chez elles que le programme des TÉT du
gouvernement fédéral fait rentrer un nouveau groupe de travailleurs
destinés à être exploités. »

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SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKERS AT BC FARM GO UNION

SEASONAL AGRICULTURAL WORKERS AT BC FARM GO UNION WITH UFCW CANADA:
THE BC LABOUR RELATIONS BOARD HAS CERTIFIED A BARGAINING UNIT OF MORE THAN 70 MIGRANT AGRICULTURE WORKERS AFTER A MAJORITY OF THE WORKERS VOTED TO JOIN UFCW CANADA LOCAL 1518.

New Westminster, BC – March 4, 2010 – The BC Labour Relations Board has certified a bargaining unit of more than 70 migrant agriculture workers after a majority of the workers voted to join UFCW Canada Local 1518. The workers come to Canada each season under the federal Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and are employed by Sidhu & Sons Nursery Limited. Sidhu, with a central office in Mission, BC, operates half-a-dozen nursery locations across the Lower Mainland specializing in shrubbery, trees, and other landscape ornamental plants.

The SAWP workers at Sidhu are now the second certified bargaining unit represented by UFCW Canada Local 1518. Local 1518 also represents seasonal workers at Floralia Growers near Abbotsford, where a first collective agreement was ratified last September.

“We welcome the newest members at Sidhu,” said UFCW Canada Local 1518 President Ivan Limpright. “This has been a long struggle, with many challenges by the employer, but at the end of the day these workers stood by their right to have a union and we’re there for them.”

The unit was certified earlier this week after the ballots were tallied. UFCW Canada Local 1518 is now preparing a notice to the employer to commence bargaining.

The SAWP workers at Sidhu had actually cast their ballots over a year ago, but the ballot box had been sealed pending challenges from Sidhu. The employer argued that because it also employs domestic workers, a stand-alone unit of SAWP workers was not appropriate. But on February 9, after the union challenged the Vice Chair’s original decision, the reconsideration panel referred the award back to the Vice Chair. Then, after many days of hearings, he overturned his original decision in favour of the union. The Vice-Chair upheld the right of the SAWP workers to form their own bargaining unit if a majority of them voted to.

They did, “and it proves these workers want representation, and they want it from UFCW Canada,” says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada. “This is a victory for the SAWP workers at Sidhu, and for all agriculture workers in Canada who want to exercise their constitutional right to unionize and bargain a collective agreement.”

UFCW Canada is the country’s largest private-sector union, and in association with the AWA, operates nine agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including AWA centres in Surrey, Abbotsford, and Kelowna, BC. In addition to its British Columbia bargaining units, UFCW Canada also represents agriculture workers at locations in Quebec and Manitoba.

2010-03-04 Seasonal ag workers at BC farm go union with UFCW Canada Fr.doc
2010-03-04 Seasonal ag workers at BC farm go union with UFCW Canada Eng rev by AN.DOC

Programme to Canada Assists More than 12,000 Guatemalans

(Source: OIM-Guatemala)

GUATEMALA – IOM-Managed Temporary Labour Migration Programme to Canada Assists More than 12,000 Guatemalans- The IOM Labour Migration Programme from Guatemala to Canada, which began in 2003 with 215 workers, recently assisted the 12,000th participant. Since 2003, the programme has become a success with employers as well as Guatemalans signing up to participate.

In 2009 a total of 3,858 labour migrants worked travelled to Canada with IOM assistance to work on 341 farms. Stefan Mantsch, Manager of the IOM Labour Migration Programme in Guatemala, says, “This time of year is high season for employer requests. We receive an average of 10 requests daily. This year we will easily surpass our target of helping 4,000 persons to travel to Canada. IOM provides technical assistance to the Guatemalan Government, carries out field recruitment for new participants, conducts fit for work evaluations, helps new recruits prepare the necessary documents and other requirements for travel to Canada, arranges for medical clearance, provides pre-departure orientation sessions, arranges flights, and provides assistance at the airport. Mantsch adds, “This is a very dynamic programme driven by requests from employers.

From the moment IOM receives a request from an employer to the time the workers are on the plane bound for Canada is an average of 15 days.” Some 90 per cent of participants work in the agricultural sector, but the programme has expanded to include poultry, construction, dairy, landscaping, and laundry services. At a recent field recruitment exercise in the village of Panabajal, more than 120 new applicants were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the IOM team that would check documents and perform a series of aptitude tests. Mantsch explains as a group of four migrants complete a numeracy and literacy test, “We need to have workers in our database who are tested and ready to go so we can respond quickly to the employers’ requests.”

Forty-four year old Juan Chan Matzer has travelled to Canada three consecutive years. He’s hoping his Canadian employer will request his service again in 2010 so he can accomplish some unmet goals, although he has managed to buy land and a car. The vast majority of participants tell IOM they invest their earnings buying land, building or enlarging their home, and providing a higher level of education for their children.

The programme began in 2003 after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between IOM Guatemala and the Fondation des Entreprises en Recrutement de Main-d’ uvre agricole Étrangère (FERME), an employer association in Montreal that represents hundreds of employers and coordinates the seasonal hiring of temporary migrant workers in the Province of Québec. But today IOM also receives request from employers in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia.

The success of the Programme is also measured in the very low drop-out rates: only 2.5% of participants do not finish their contracts, and the rate of non-return stands at 0.2%. The agreement stipulates that all migrants must return to their country of origin at the end of their contracts, which range between four and six months, and provide coverage under Canadian labour laws.

Ottawa Citizen: Proposals could limit migrant workers’ stay in Canada

Proposals could limit migrant workers’ stay in Canada

TORONTO — They arrive on the promise of good jobs, fair wages and an opportunity to support their families back home.

But thousands of migrant labourers — those who land in British Columbia to pick fruit, in Ontario to work in factories and farms, or in Nova Scotia to cut Christmas trees — are anxiously waiting the outcome of a debate in Ottawa that could dramatically impact their ability to work here.

“These changes put the onus on the workers when the government should really be protecting them,” said Chris Ramsaroop, who is with the outreach group Justica for Migrant Workers. “It makes workers more fearful to speak out against the work conditions they face because their contracts won’t be extended, or they’ll be sent home.”