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MONTREAL — Every year, thousands of migrant workers enter Canada to work.
Some of the work is seasonal, like picking apples or other fruit in the fields.
Some of the work is gruesome, like working in a slaughterhouse when the animals are ready for market. And some of the work is domestic, like being a nanny.
Many of these workers are unaware they may have rights that their employers don’t tell them about. A group has formed to remedy that and help these temporary workers.
On Saturday, the Immigrant Workers Centre of Montreal launched an offshoot, the Temporary Foreign Workers Association (TFWA), with the goal of giving legal advice, information, support and a lobbying group.
“We are here to fight against abuse and to support and advocate for these workers,” said association spokesperson Enrique Llanes, here on a temporary visa from his native Spain.
“There has been an Immigrant Workers Centre for 13 years, but now there is a need to branch out.”
Llanes said that in 2006 there were 160,000 migrant workers that came to Canada. The global economic crisis of 2008 and the terrible rates of unemployment in parts of Europe have seen those numbers grow to 350,000 migrants workers in 2011.
He said many employers exploit their workers by keeping them in the dark about any rights they might be eligible for. Because the pay in Canada is so much greater than what they might earn in their own countries, many workers don’t raise a peep.
“People are very afraid of their employers and many of those employers use threats and blackmail,” Llanes said.
He said proper immigrants are entitled to health-care coverage after a period of several months and have access to the worker benefits provided by Emploi Québec. The migrant workers have neither.
“These workers are hired for a while and then disposed of,” Llanes said.
“The TFWA will try to advocate for the welfare and rights of all migrant workers in Québec,” he said.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
- Economic sectors
Agriculture and horticulture workers, General farm workers, and General relevance - all sectors
- Content types
- Target groups
Public awareness and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks
- Geographical focuses