VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Aug. 13, 2014) - The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) has filed a human rights complaint before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, denouncing B.C. employers who use discriminatory mechanisms that allow them to avoid hiring women under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).
Through a number of human rights complaints filed in Mexico and Canada, UFCW Canada is pressing for changes to the selection, hiring, and placement of Mexican migrant workers under the SAWP.
UFCW Canada is asking the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to conduct an inquiry into gender-based discrimination practiced by SAWP employers in B.C. against Mexican migrant agricultural workers. The SAWP's recruitment and selection process allows an employer to inform Mexican authorities of their specific gender preference for a potential employee, and many SAWP employers request male workers over female employees.
On average, women comprise less than four percent of the thousands of migrant agricultural workers who come to Canada and participate in the SAWP each year. The Mexican government has contributed to this trend by publicly declaring that, under the current Memorandum of Understanding between Mexico and Canada, SAWP employers have every right to discriminate against migrant agricultural workers based on their gender. Canadian agribusinesses - confronted with similar human rights complaints in other provinces - are claiming they are blameless in the matter.
However, the practice of gender-based discrimination in hiring migrant farm workers violates Mexican and Canadian legislation, as well as international treaties on discrimination and equal access to employment. As a result, UFCW Canada is asking the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal to investigate the SAWP's discriminatory recruitment and selection process, and is pressing for changes to the process that will end discrimination against Mexican women who are interested in participating in the SAWP.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) is the country's leading union, representing more than 250,000 workers from coast to coast. For more than a decade, UFCW Canada has been engaged in a continuous struggle to secure the rights of migrant and domestic agricultural workers labouring in Canada. Together with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada represents migrant farm workers in B.C. and Quebec, and operates ten agricultural worker support centres across the country.