UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

December 23, 2008 10:19 ET

Over 50 additional farm workers fired during Christmas season

Harper's Temporary Foreign Worker Program in Need of Overhaul

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 23, 2008) -

More than 50 Guatemalan farm workers, the majority of them women, have been issued notices of termination by Rol-Land Farms. The workers were told that they are scheduled to be evicted and repatriated on December 28, 29, and 30, during the Christmas season. These latest terminations closely follow mass termination of over 70 Mexican and Jamaican farm workers earlier this month by Rol-Land Farms.

Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada stated, "these waves of firings and repatriations are testaments to the failures of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Canada needs programs that bring workers here as permanent residents, not programs that treat immigrants as second class workers and disposable tools."

"The Federal government and the provincial government have to start accepting responsibility for the treatment of migrant workers rather than passing the buck. The equal treatment of temporary foreign workers in this country is both a federal as well as a provincial responsibility," said Hanley.

The fired workers are in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, championed by the Harper government. As a result of the firings the workers will be evicted from the rental housing provided to them by Rol-Land Farms. The workers were contracted to work for a one-year period but are facing repatriation to Guatemala after only two to four months in the country.

Many of the workers have stated that they cannot afford to be repatriated before they earn enough money to repay the loans they took out in order to pay for the necessary applications fees, visas and medical exams required for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

"Rol-Land Farms is not an exception. This practise fits in to a pattern that we have seen across Canada, with workers employed under the various temporary foreign workers schemes," explained Chris Ramsaroop of Justicia for Migrant Workers - an advocacy group that works with migrant workers across Canada.

On November 17, 2008 UFCW Canada gained a landmark victory for agriculture workers in Ontario at the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The decision struck down the ban on farm unions in the province as a violation of the Charter rights of Ontario's more than 100,000 agriculture workers. The court has given the McGuinty government 12 months to bring farm workers under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, or draft new legislation respecting the rights of farm workers to unionize.

UFCW Canada in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance operates eight support centres across Canada for agriculture workers. UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union with over 250,000 members across the country working in every sector of the food industry from field to table.

For more information contact:

Sima Sahar Zerehi
UFCW Canada
sima.zerehi@ufcw.ca
416.893.4053
www.ufcw.ca

/For further information: For More Information:

Sima Sahar Zerehi
UFCW Canada
416.893.4053
sima.zerehi@ufcw.ca

www.ufcw.ca
www.awa-ata.ca

/ IN: AGRICULTURE, FOOD, JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Sima Sahar Zerehi, National Representative, UFCW CANADA
    Primary Phone: 416-893-4053
    E-mail: sima.zerehi@ufcw.ca