Migrant worker advocates speak out against recruiters

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In front of a packed room and numerous local journalists, migrant worker organizations wrapped up a two day conference on temporary foreign workers, holding a press conference this morning in Guatemala City.

Advocates called for more oversight and involvement on behalf of the Guatemalan government, who is presently allowing foreign recruiters to select workers without regulation. Many workers have raised the issue of paying hundreds and thousands of dollars to private agencies that claim to be able to arrange contracts in Canada or the US.

“We need a public policy to regulate these programs”, said Amilcar Vasquez from the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana a church based group.

Canadian advocates mainly blamed the International Organization on Migration and FERME, the Montreal based private agency that recently opened an office in Guatemala and recruits locally without oversight or regulation. “These agencies are violating our rights, and we call on the Guatemalan government to do something”, said Jose Sicajau a migrant worker who used to work in Canada and who now heads an organization named Guatemalans United for Our Rights.

Representing United Food and Commercial Workers – Canada, Andrea Galvez pointed out that temporary workers have been asked to pay 500 dollars to join the program. She further added there are elements of local recruiters practices “that are completely illegal”.

Last year 8000 Guatemalans went to work in Canada.

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