UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

July 05, 2017 18:24 ET

New report exposes recruitment exploitation of Guatemalan foreign workers in Canada

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - July 5, 2017) - A new report exposes recruitment practices that saddle many Guatemalan agricultural workers recruited to Quebec with heavy debt and a fear of complaining about unsafe or unjust working conditions. The report, Who, How and How Much? The Recruitment of Guatemalan Workers to Quebec stems from a collaborative research project between the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and several partner organizations: UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers union), the Agricultural Workers Alliance (AWA), UQAM's Service aux collectivités, and Justice in Motion.

Working in collaboration with the AWA and UFCW Canada, researchers interviewed individual workers, held focus groups and conducted an anonymous survey. They found that the recruitment process is often a rough ride for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) hired to work in Quebec through the agricultural stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Many TFWs take out crushing loans to cover various expenses and fees, including charges by recruiters operating abroad on behalf of Canadian employers.

"The economic exploitation of Guatemalan TFWs is not a new phenomenon. Exorbitant recruitment fees charged both by recruiters, and in the past by organizations like the International Organization for Migration (IOM) only add to the ongoing precariousness that workers experience both in Canada as well as in Guatemala," says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. "UFCW Canada has had a long history of fighting to eradicate recruiter fees and to improve the working and living conditions for all agricultural workers across the country," he adds.

"These debts may explain why TFWs are generally not inclined to act on their labour rights if and when things go wrong," explains Dr. Dalia Gesualdi-Fecteau, a professor in the Faculty of Political Science and Law at UQAM and lead author of the report. "They don't want to do or say anything that might, in their perception, jeopardize their employment and their ability to repay their debts."

The full report, Who, How and How Much? The Recruitment of Guatemalan workers to Quebec can be downloaded at http://ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31620:new-report-exposes-recruitment-exploitation-of-guatemalan-foreign-workers-in-canada&catid=9861&Itemid=6&lang=en.

UFCW Canada is the country's leading private-sector union, with more than 250,000 members from coast-to-coast working in the food, retail, hospitality, health care, security, industrial, and office and professional sectors. For more than thirty years, UFCW Canada has led the way to bring justice, safety, seniority, and good wages to workers in the agriculture sector. UFCW Canada union contracts at greenhouses and field and packing operations provide both domestic and migrant agriculture workers with the best wages and workplace protections in the industry.

The Agriculture Workers Alliance is North America's largest agriculture workers association with over 13,000 members. Along with the AWA, UFCW Canada operates a number of agriculture worker support centres across Canada.

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