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Report/Press release

AWA anti-discrimination campaign gains results:‎ Quebec Labour Standards Board responds on the issue of migrant farm workers

Date

2010

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

Quebec agriculture operations that deduct a housing charge from Temporary Foreign Workers ‎‎(TFWs) have lowered their fee after it was noted the rate they were charging was beyond the ‎maximum allowed under provincial labour regulations. ‎

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Notes

Quebec agriculture operations that deduct a housing charge from Temporary Foreign Workers ‎‎(TFWs) have lowered their fee after it was noted the rate they were charging was beyond the ‎maximum allowed under provincial labour regulations. ‎

The action followed after the Quebec Labour Standards Board advised the Guatemalan ‎consulate, as well as FERME (a farm lobby group) that the $45 a week for housing that had been ‎deducted from about 4,000 Guatemalan Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) was in violation of ‎the $20 a week maximum allowable under provincial labour standards. The $45 charge had ‎originally been negotiated between FERME, the Guatemala authorities, and approved by the ‎federal government.‎
‎ ‎
‎« We are glad the Board has acted to end this flagrant violation of provincial regulations, » says ‎Andrea Galvez, co-ordinator of the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) support centre in ‎Saint-Rémi, Quebec. « For many years we have voiced our concern about discriminatory ‎contracts and other violations forced on migrant farm workers in Quebec. »‎
‎ ‎
Those concerns led to two complaints filed in Quebec last year, including one with the Human ‎Rights Commission that TFW contracts violated the Charter by denying TFWs equal treatment. ‎That charge is proceeding. A second complaint was filed with the Quebec Labour Standards ‎Board on behalf of 40 Guatemalan TFWs at a Quebec agriculture operation whose housing ‎deductions exceeded the provincial maximum. ‎
‎ ‎
That deduction has now dropped to $20 per week for them, and other TFWs working on Quebec ‎farms, « who altogether were being overcharged more than $100,000 a week,» says Galvez. « ‎It’s been like that since 2003, so a retroactive remedy should also be considered. »‎
‎ ‎
‎« Housing is just one of many issues facing these workers. As we have for the last ten years, the ‎AWA will continue its efforts to make sure the labour and human rights of these workers are ‎respected. »‎

The AWA, in association with UFCW Canada, operates 10 agriculture worker support centres ‎across Canada.‎

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Target groups

Public awareness

Regulation domains

Determination fair wages and labour shortage and Right to equality (national origin)

Geographical focuses

Quebec and Guatemala

Languages

French, English, and Spanish