December 10, 2008 13:20 ET
Foreign workers at Ontario farm speak out on firings and deportation
Fired foreign workers to tell their story at Toronto press conference, Thursday, December 11 @ 10:30 am
Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor
TORONTO— MEDIA ADVISORY FOR THURS. DECEMBER 11/08--(Marketwire - Dec. 10, 2008) -
Attention Toronto-GTA News and Assignmnet Editors
for THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11/08
FIRED FOREIGN WORKERS AT ONTARIO AGRI-COMPLEX SPEAK OUT ABOUT EVICTIONS AND DEPORTATIONS AT TORONTO PRESS CONFERENCE -
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11/08 AT 11AM
Thursday December 11, 2008, 11am
Sheraton Centre Hotel, Queen and Bay
Farm Worker recently evicted and fired by Rol-Land Farms
(Other farm workers also available for interviews)
Stan Raper -
National Co-ordinator, Agriculture Workers Alliance
Chris Ramsaroop -
Justicia for Migrant Workers
Jenna Hennebry -
Associate Director, International Migration Research Centre,
Wilfrid Laurier University
TORONTO, ONTARIO - Dec. 11, 2008 - Farm workers, trade unions, advocacy groups and academics at a December 11 press conference in Toronto, will speak about the more than 70 Mexican and Jamaican agriculture workers at a mushroom grow house outside of Guelph who were fired without notice on December 6, by Rol-Land Farms, a multi-million-a-year, privately owned industrial agricultural corporation that operates a number of mushroom growing operations across Canada.
The workers were in Canada on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, championed by the Harper government. They were also evicted from the housing rented to them by Rol-Land Farms, many of the workers have already been repatriated, and a few have remained in Canada to share their stories.
"We lost everything over night, our home, our jobs and our dream of being able to stay and work in Canada," explained Carlos one of the recently fired farm workers employed at Rol-Land Farms. He added, "Rol-Land farms didn't even give us notice or an explanation. I can't believe that Rol-Land fired and evicted us so close to Christmas. This is a company with no heart."
Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada stated "the stories told by these workers are living examples of how the Temporary Foreign Workers program puts workers at the mercy of employers. Multi-million dollar companies like Rol-Land Farms are given a free hand to arbitrarily pick workers from particular countries and treat them as disposable assets. Allowing these programs to continue will mean turning back the clock on labour rights in Canada."
"With no consequences for bad employers, no mechanisms to help workers change employers, no access to information and health services, foreign workers are a precarious and vulnerable hidden workforce doing work Ontarians don't want to do," explained Dr. Jenna Hennebry, the Associate Director of the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University.
"Rol-Land Farms is stripping these workers of their humanity. Any Canadian would be outraged if we allowed a landlord to evict a tenant with no notice, or if a boss was able to fire a worker without notice or compensation. In this case Rol-Land farms has done both," explained Chris Ramsaroop of Justicia for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group that works with migrant workers across Canada.
The fired workers had been only working for Rol-Land Farms for periods ranging from four to eight months. According to the terms of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program workers are issued work visas for two years.
On November 17, 2008 UFCW Canada gained a landmark victory for agriculture workers in Ontario at the Ontario Court of Appeal. 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:
Sima Sahar Zerehi
/For further information: www.ufcw.ca
Agriculture Workers Alliance
IN: AGRICULTURE, FOOD, JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS