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Newspaper article

Temporary foreign worker dies in freak accident, leaves chilling testimony

Date

2014-09-09

Authors

CBC News - Montreal

Newspaper title

CBC News

Full text

A video uncovered by Radio-Canada paints a grim picture of the working conditions one temporary foreign worker allegedly experienced on an Ormstown, Que., farm.

Guatemalan chicken catcher in Quebec alleges abusive work practices
Temporary foreign workers at risk of abuse, advocates say
Mexican worker Ivan Guerrero drowned in May on the farm where he worked. Police ruled his death an accident.

Following his death, a local group dedicated to helping migrant workers shared a video they say they recorded with Guerrero last year. On a stark background, the worker speaks directly into the camera, addressing the hardships he says he faces at work.

"Es como si fuera yo...un perro," he says of his boss. “It’s like I'm the dog, and she's my owner.”

He describes long hours, unpaid overtime and limited freedom.

“We are human beings, and I would like to be treated with more dignity,” he says into the camera.

Guerrero had been coming to Canada for four years, picking vegetables and sending his earnings to his wife and two children back in Mexico. On the first day of what would have been his fifth summer in the country, he died while trying to fix a leak near his living quarters. It took three days for someone to contact authorities.

Melvin Mendez works for Somos Hermanos, the group behind the video.

He said he often meets with temporary foreign workers and sometimes records their conversations.

This isn’t the first complaint he has had about this particular employer.

“We've been visiting this farm for seven years and most of the workers say they have no freedom,” he said.

Workers free to come and go, employer says

Guerrero’s employer declined a formal interview, but told Radio-Canada his workers have bicycles and are free to come and go as they please.

He added they were hired to work and not to party, and said he didn’t like them going out too much for security reasons.

When asked about Guerrero and the delay it took for staff to call police, he explained that the death occurred over the weekend and that he had not noticed Guerrero was missing.

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Economic sectors

General farm workers

Content types

Policy analysis and Documented cases of abuse

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

México and Quebec

Languages

English