UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

September 08, 2008 10:41 ET

Farm union calls for inquiry into B.C. mushroom farm fatalities

NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF UFCW CANADA CALLS FOR "A FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY TO BE FOLLOWED UP BY ACTION AND NOT JUST APOLOGIES."

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VANCOUVER, B.C.--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2008) -

UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers Canada) has called for an inquiry following the deaths of three workers and the hospitalization of three others after the workers were overcome Friday by fumes at a Langley, B.C. mushroom growing facility.

"We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the victims," said UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley, "and our hopes for a full recovery for the three other workers. The families, the public, and all agriculture workers need to know what led to this tragedy and how to prevent it from ever happening again."

"This demands a full public inquiry to be followed up by action and not just apologies," said the leader of one of Canada's largest private sectors unions which recently organized the first-ever local union of migrant and temporary farm workers in British Columbia. UFCW Canada also represents migrant agriculture workers at a farm in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, and has applications pending for three other farms in Quebec.

UFCW Canada in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) also operates eight agriculture worker support and counseling centres across Canada. Since its launch in April 2008 the AWA has signed up thousands of domestic, migrant and temporary agriculture worker as members and the AWA membership continues to grow.

One of the AWA centres is in Abbotsford, B.C., about 25 kilometers east of the Farm Fresh Mushroom facility where the workers were struck down Friday.

"Workers who come to our AWA Centres regularly report dangerous working and living conditions," says Stan Raper who heads the AWA program, "and having to handle chemicals and compounds they know nothing about, packaged in containers they can't read."

"They're concerned but they are also afraid to complain because many of them are temporary or migrant workers. If they raise any concerns with their employer and don't have a union, that can mean getting fired on the spot," said Raper, "or sent back on a plane to where they came from."

On average, in Canada there are about 115 agriculture workplace-related fatalities annually as well as more than 1500 workers seriously injured, "some of whom are brought to this country to do this dangerous work by government programs that may fail to protect the workers adequately," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley.

"That should also be part of the inquiry into Fridays' tragedy."

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Contact:

Stan Raper, National Co-ordinator
Agriculture Workers Alliance
416-675-1104 office, ext. 232
416-523-0937 cell

Lucy Luna, AWA Centre
Abbotsford, B.C.
604-859-5044 office
604-855-6323 cell
abbotsford@awa-ata.ca
www.awa-atc.ca

/For further information:

Michael Forman
UFCW Canada National Office Communications
416-579-8330
mforman@ufcw.ca
www.ufcw.ca/ IN: AGRICULTURE, FOOD, JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Stan Raper, National Co-ordinator, Agriculture Workers Alliance
    Primary Phone: 416-675-1104 ext. 232
    Secondary Phone: 416-523-0937
    E-mail: sraper@ufcw.ca