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Report/Press release

Public campaign denounces Canadian migrant worker program managed by IOM

Date

2010

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

Canada’s largest private-sector union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada), has launched – in collaboration with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) – a major campaign to denounce the systematic abuse and violation of the rights of Guatemalan farm workers who come to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Full text

Canada’s largest private-sector union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada), has launched – in collaboration with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) – a major campaign to denounce the systematic abuse and violation of the rights of Guatemalan farm workers who come to Canada through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).

The campaign denounces numerous illegal practices and calls into question terms outlined in a contract imposed on migrant Guatemalan workers by FERME, an employer association, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – an intergovernmental agency mandated to “promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.”

UFCW Canada and the AWA started the public campaign, called No More Injustice and Oppression against Migrants!, to give a voice to the growing number of Guatemalan workers who help make the Canadian agriculture industry possible and are greatly mistreated for their efforts. For more on the campaign, visit http://www.ufcw.ca.

Approximately 4,000 Guatemalan men and women come to work in the Canadian agriculture industry every year. They enter Canada through the Pilot Project for Occupations Requiring Lower Levels of Formal Training which has been widely criticized since it was introduced over seven years ago because it offers even less protection for migrants who come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).

Workers are recruited in Guatemala by the IOM and have to accept a series of inhumane conditions to come to Canada. Although the pilot project is administered by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the contract imposed on migrants does not allow the ministry to intervene in the terms of work. Once the contract is signed, the worker is brought in and left to the mercy of employers.

UFCW Canada and the AWA are strongly urging Canadian authorities to open an official investigation into FERME and IOM’s management of the pilot project, and are calling for immediate and substantive reforms to the TFWP.

UFCW Canada is Canada’s largest private-sector union and in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers and Occupations in services - Domestic work

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Policymakers, Journalists, Public awareness, Employers, agencies and their representatives, Researchers, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Guatemala, Nova Scotia, and National relevance

Languages

French, English, and Spanish