Justicia’s questions for the “House of Labour”: CLC Convention
Justicia for Migrant Workers is a collective of migrant workers, community and labour activists who organize to fight for better working and living conditions for migrant workers here in Canada and in their home countries.
This upcoming Canadian Labour Congress convention takes place at a critical juncture. Daily issues related to the crisis in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program grab headlines without any real dialogue on how to enact changes to enshrine the rights of migrant workers and to avoid a divide and rule strategy that only wounds the working class. Headlines construct a narrative or migrants taking Canadian jobs, decreasing workplace standards and having a negative impact in our economy.
We write this to challenge the conventional wisdom that migrant workers are the main reason for the crisis in the national and global economy. Rather, our focus should place the blame squarely on Canada’s broken immigration system and a precarious labour market that denies all workers the ability to work with dignity.
We encourage that any debate on migrant workers should focus on the following questions:
· The labour movement has had a tumultuous relationship with grassroots workers and immigrant rights groups on issues relating to “temporary foreign workers”. What steps will you take to address the tensions that exist between the house of labour and grassroots community groups?
· The labour movement has had a troubled relationship with any community we have defined as ‘foreign’. What lessons from the past can guide us in order that we learn from the past and not repeat the mistakes of history? How do we show solidarity with migrant workers and do not fan the flames of attacking migrant workers employed in our communities?
· What steps will you take if elected to ensure that all workers including migrant workers have equal access to our social entitlements (including equal access to healthcare, education and Employment Insurance? Recently Federal and provincial governments are restricting migrant workers access to these basic programs. How will you support migrant workers and their efforts to resist these changes?
· Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers will never be able to apply for residency of Canada because of our restrictive immigration laws. Do you support the ability of both current and previous migrant workers to access residency in Canada? If so what steps will you take to advocate for immigration reform? If you oppose residency for migrant workers please provide reasons.
· ”Temporary Foreign Workers” are being arrested, detained, jailed and deported for their desire to seek work – something that is impossible because of closed work permits which indenture workers to their employers. Once workers seek employment outside of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, they are criminalized and discarded simply for their desire to improve their working conditions. The labour movement has been silent on the issue of immigration raids. If you are elected how would you show solidarity for detained migrants? What steps would you undertake to counter how migrants are criminalized through our immigration policies? How would you address this contentious issue with unionized workers to counter how migrant workers are criminalized?
· When a migrant worker gets injured, often they are repatriated (deported by their employer) almost immediately after an injury. What concrete steps can rank and file members across Canada undertake to support injured and ill migrant workers and migrants facing deportation for standing up for their rights at work?
· How will you implement a campaign to raise consciousness amongst unionized workers about the conditions that migrant workers face in Canada, and what would genuine solidarity look like from the labour movement to migrant workers.
Justicia for Migrant Workers, from the grassroots of the labour movement…