Monthly Archives: November 2010

AWA: migrant workers left unpaid in Ontario

MIgrant workers left unpaid at Ontario, Canada farm


Migrant farm workers fear repercussions, seek protection

SIMCOE, Ont. — In a little office just off the main drag in this small southern Ontario town, a handful of Mexican workers sit around and drink coffee. They would rather be digging and grading strawberry plants, the jobs they were hired for, but the farmer who hired them has left the country without paying them the thousands of dollars they’re owed.

CBC News – Canada – Migrant farm workers fear repercussions, seek protection

Migrant farm workers stage wildcat strike to demand thousands of dollars in unpaid wages: Employer responds with deportation

Migrant farm workers stage wildcat strike to demand thousands of dollars in unpaid wages: Employer responds with deportation

November 23, 2010

(Simcoe, Ontario) Over a 100 migrant farm workers employed at Ghesquiere Plants Ltd. are  facing imminent repatriation (deportation) after staging a wildcat strike to demanding thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

The migrant workers from Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados came together across racial, linguistic and ethnic lines to organize this wild cat strike and strengthen their collective power. The workers employed by this farm described numerous rights violations and complaints about their living conditions including the following:

•    Workers are each owed from $1000 to $6000  in unpaid wages
•    Workers are to be evicted and will be homeless as of Thursday, November 25th, 2010
•    Most of the Mexican and Trinidadian workers will be repatriated by this Thursday. All Jamaican
workers have been repatriated.
•    Electricity and heat has been cut off in one bunk
•    Deplorable and very crowed living conditions

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a grassroots advocacy migrant rights organization, calls for the immediate payment of all wages owing to workers. Migrant workers employed at Ghesquiere Plant Ltd. are being forced to return home and cannot provide for their families. Repatriation denies them access to pursue legal avenues under federal and provincial laws, basic protections accorded to permanent residents in Canada thus J4MW calls on both levels of government to intervene to protect migrants and prosecute employers who denied these workers basic rights. J4MW stresses that Temporary Foreign Worker Programs such as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program denies migrant workers the ability to exert their rights and are in need of an urgent and complete overhaul.

Justice for Migrant Workers | Simcoe, ON-Migrant farm workers stage wildcat strike…

Understanding the Tory immigration strategy

The right-wing minority government of Stephen Harper has just introduced Bill C-49.

The “Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act ” that, among other things, allows the minister of public safety to declare any group of migrants coming in to Canada, a ‘smuggling incident.’

Once deemed a smuggling incident, the refugee claimants can be jailed for at least a year, with no access to health coverage. Their incarceration may be extended, with reviews only possible once in six months. If these asylum seekers gain refugee status, the minister of immigration can choose to revoke their status at any point in the next five years. At the end of the five years, the government wants to be able to assess the conditions in the “home country” and determine their safety, and if found to be safe the refugees can be deported. During these five years, the claimants are not allowed to apply for permanent residence or to sponsor their families. Those whose claims are denied have no recourse to appeal. Those found to be a “human smuggler,” defined as someone who “knows or is reckless as to whether an asylum seeker has broken the law” can be jailed for 10 years.

Understanding the Tory immigration strategy |

UN Finds Canada and Ontario Violate Human Rights

An Agency of the United Nations Has Ruled a Ban on Farm Unions Violates the Human Rights of Ontario’s 100,000 Migrant and Domestic Farm Workers

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND–(Marketwire – Nov. 18, 2010) – The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) has ruled that Canada and Ontario, through Ontario’s ban on farm unions, violate the human rights of the more than 100,000 migrant and domestic agriculture workers in that province. It follows a complaint filed in March 2009 by UFCW Canada — the country’s largest private-sector union and a leading advocate for farm workers’ rights for over two decades. The ILO is the United Nations agency responsible for formulating international labour standards including basic labour rights.

“The ILO has sent a clear message to the Canadian and Ontario governments that Ontario must end its blatant abuse of the rights of the workers who grow and harvest our food,” says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. “These are farm workers, not farm animals, and people have human rights including the right to collective bargaining.”

The ILO ruling was handed down in Geneva ( It found that Ontario’s Agricultural Employees Act, 2002 (AEPA) which denies all Ontario agriculture workers the right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining is a violation of human rights under two United Nation’s conventions: Convention No. 87 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention No. 98 – Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.

More: UN Finds Canada and Ontario Violate Human Rights

Precedent-setting UFCW Canada collective agreement for migrant agriculture workers reached in B.C.

Migrant farm workers at Abbotsford’s Sidhu & Sons Nursery, members of UFCW Canada Local 1518, are the latest to successfully negotiate a Collective Agreement with their employer.

The Sidhu & Sons workers are here under the federal government’s Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP), and a unique feature of their new Collective Agreement is that it is specifically for the migrant agriculture workers at Sidhu & Sons, rather than the entire workforce.

“Because of UFCW Canada’s perseverance in the fight for justice and dignity for migrant agricultural workers, we have successfully achieved the first contract specifically for migrant farm workers,” said Ivan Limpright, President of UFCW Canada 1518.

“This did not come easy,” said Limpright. “While workers at Sidhu & Sons had long ago expressed interest in the union and joined the union, it took almost three years of hard work to get this agreement in place.”

“There were many challenges and hearings at the B.C. Labour Relations Board, and ultimately we were able to win a precedent-setting decision granting migrant agriculture workers bargaining recognition under the provincial labour code, and we finally concluded negotiations with a mediated settlement for the new Collective Agreement.”

Another Victory for Migrant Farm Workers