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Journal article

Home and a Hard Place: A Roundtable on Migrant Labour

Date

2014

Abstract

While migrant worker organizing has a long and established position in American labour history, the stories and struggles of migrant workers in Canada remain less well known. In recent years the Canadian state has created a series of labour policies that both ease the entry of temporary workers to the country and impose on them a distinct set of laws governing working conditions, applications for status, the right to unionize, and job security. Together this dual system of labour regulation has been described as a form of status-based “labour apartheid.” While differences exist in how migrant workers are disciplined and regulated by the Canadian state, the ways in which workers have tried to organize follow similar patterns and face similar challenges. This roundtable includes organizers who have worked with either migrant domestic workers or farm workers. By their accounts, the challenges involved in developing migrant worker movements led by the workers themselves have been significant. The reality is that the conditions imposed on migrant workers by the Canadian government and employers make it extremely difficult for them to organize themselves without the initiative and continuing support of allies. The participants in this roundtable discuss these conditions and the challenges to be met.

Evelyn Calugay and Tess Tesalona have worked with PINAY, the first Filipina women’s organization in Québec. Founded in 1991 by a social worker, PINAY focuses on the issues faced by domestic workers, both nationally and internationally, and is a member of Migrante International. Evelyn is the chairperson of PINAY. Tess is an organizer with PINAY, and a former coordinator of the Immigrant Worker’s Centre in Montréal.

Adriana Paz, Aylwin Lo, and Chris Ramsaroop work with Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a grassroots collective based in Toronto and Vancouver. J4MW was established in 2002, following a series of investigative missions by activists to farming communities in Ontario. It supports the rights of seasonal Caribbean and Mexican migrant workers who work under the federal government’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). Adriana is based in Vancouver. Aylwin and Chris are based in Toronto.

Journal title

Upping the Anti

Volume

7

File Attachments

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers, Occupations in services - Domestic work, and General relevance - all sectors

Content types

Policy analysis and Past policies

Target groups

Public awareness, Researchers, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

United States, Ontario, and National relevance

Languages

English