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Newspaper article

Migrant worker speaks of poor B.C. conditions

Date

2013-05-30

Authors

Michael Mui

Abstract

Before “buying local” at the grocery store, a coalition of temporary foreign agricultural workers wants B.C. residents to know farmhands are increasingly made up of migrant employees working in undesirable conditions.

Newspaper title

24 Hrs Vancouver

Full text

Before “buying local” at the grocery store, a coalition of temporary foreign agricultural workers wants B.C. residents to know farmhands are increasingly made up of migrant employees working in undesirable conditions.

Speaking at the Canadian Council for Refugees conference in Burnaby Thursday, Agriculture Workers Alliance spokesman Gil Aguilar said the number of foreign work-permit employees at B.C. farms has grown to nearly 5,000 in the last decade.

“All of these temporary workers come under a federal program, where the contract establishes that they live where the employer tells them,” he said.

“It’s not like anybody else in B.C. who pays rent and can say it’s their house … in many cases it’s not even a house the worker is paying for. It’s just a shack with no running water, with no hot water or heating.”

The workers, Aguilar said, are paid 5% less than the prevailing minimum wage.

“This is happening all over B.C. It’s not the middle of nowhere, it’s happening in Delta, in Langley, it’s happening in Surrey, in Pitt Meadows,” he said.

“Let’s buy local, but also let’s buy fair.”

The Canadian Council for Refugees meet continues Friday and Saturday at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown. Admission is free for those with refugee status.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Support initiatives

Geographical focuses

British Columbia

Languages

English