UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

February 24, 2009 16:12 ET

Mexico state and Canadian union sign migrant worker protection pact

The State of Michoacán, Mexico and UFCW Canada sign accord to extend protection and assistance to migrant workers in Canada

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor MORELIA, MICHOACÁN, MEXICO--(Marketwire - Feb. 24, 2009) -

Migrant workers from the Mexico state of Michoacán will have enhanced protections when they arrive in Canada this season, thanks to a new historic agreement.

On Tuesday, February 24, Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada, and Governor Leonel Godoy Rangel from the State of Michoacán signed a landmark co-operation agreement to ensure that the human and labour rights of agricultural workers from Michoacán, Mexico are recognized and enforced while they work in Canadian fields and greenhouses.

It is a first-of-its kind North American agreement, where a state institution has partnered with a civil society organization to extend services and assistance to its citizens working outside of Mexico. It is a unique pact developed after work and consultation between Mexico executive and parliamentary authorities, as well as state authorities - and UFCW Canada which, for more than a decade, has led the campaign for the rights of migrant workers.

Under the pact, workers from Michoacán will be assisted in Canada by UFCW Canada (United Food Commercial Workers Canada) in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA). UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union. The AWA operates nine agriculture workers support centres across Canada.

As part of the agreement, the AWA network of centres, staffed by Spanish-speaking staff, will offer counseling and advocacy services regarding labour rights, housing conditions, medical claims and other work-related issues.

"The agreement is a breakthrough for the workers from Michoacán," says president Hanley. "Now they will be able to access more information and services about Canadian labour laws and their rights, with the clear understanding that it is their right to do so and that it is supported by their own state. This will make their working stay in Canada a better and healthier experience for them."

In addition to an advocacy role, the AWA centres will also offer the Michoacán workers workshops and information on health and safety, workers' compensation (WSIB) claims, English and French as second languages, translation services, and free long distance telephone access.

The workers come to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) - a long-time, bilateral agreement between Canada and sending countries such as Mexico. Historically the SAWP agreement has excluded workers' input regarding pay rates and housing conditions. SAWP also lacks an independent process, free of the threat of employer reprisals, to mediate workplace grievances.

"SAWP will continue to be an important link for labour between Mexico and Canada," says Hanley. "We believe the new Michoacán - UFCW Canada proposal can make it even stronger by allowing the workers, the State they come from, and their advocate in Canada to work together to ensure the program is fair, safe and productive for all concerned."

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/For further information: Stan Raper, National Coordinator
Agriculture Workers Alliance
(416) 675-1104 office
(416) 523-0937 cell
sraper@ufcw.ca

Andrea Galvez, National Representative
Agriculture Workers Alliance
(450) 454-9888 office
(514) 917-6100 cell
agalvez@ufcw.ca

www.ufcw.ca
www.awa-ata.ca / IN: AGRICULTURE, FOOD, LABOUR, POLITICS, TRADE

Contact Information

  • Stan Raper, National Co-ordinator, Agriculture Workers Alliance
    Primary Phone: 416-675-1125 ext. 232
    Secondary Phone: 416-523-0937
    E-mail: sraper@ufcw.ca