Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

November 19, 2010 14:48 ET

UFCW Campaign for Agricultural Workers' Rights Goes Global

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 19, 2010) - Ontario's 100,000 agricultural workers have become the focus of world attention as a result of a United Nations' ruling, announced yesterday in Geneva.

The UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) found that Canada and Ontario, through Ontario's ban on farm unions, are in violation of basic human rights' provisions under two United Nations' conventions.

As a result of the UN's ILO decision, the Ontario and Canadian governments have been put on notice that any further attempts to deprive agricultural workers of the right to organize and collectively bargain will be subject to global scrutiny and pressure.

"The ILO has sent a clear message to the Canadian and Ontario governments that Ontario must end its blatant abuse of the rights of the workers who grow and harvest our food," says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. "These are farm workers, not farm animals, and people have human rights including the right to collective bargaining."

"The UFCW's tenacious advocacy and successful victories on behalf of migrant workers, both home and abroad, has effectively put world governments on notice that the scandalous exploitation of agricultural workers must stop," says OFL President Sid Ryan. "We thank the UFCW for its unparalleled leadership on this issue, in the courts and political arenas. Canada's labour movement is celebrating with you."

The ILO ruling reinforces a similar decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal, issued in 2008, that Ontario's Agricultural Employees Act violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms by denying Ontario farm workers their freedom of association.

The Ontario government appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada that has twice before upheld the Charter guarantee of collective bargaining rights. The Supreme Court's final and definitive ruling is pending but the Ontario government's obstruction on this human rights' issue is now part of the historical record.

Contact Information

  • Ontario Federation of Labour
    Sid Ryan
    416.209.0066 (mobile)
    Ontario Federation of Labour
    Lynn Simmons
    Communications Director
    416.668.7480 (mobile)
    Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA)
    Stan Raper
    National Co-ordinator
    416.675.1104 x2232 (office) or 416.523.0937 (mobile)