NEW J4MW ARTICLE:
for Migrant Workers:
We did it! One episode of Border Security down!
"The divergence between the goals of a government agency and a TV production company calls into serious question the ethics of such a collaboration. "
"Force Four Entertainment should not be granted express government permission to reap economic benefits from the human suffering and family breakup that are very often caused by immigration detention and deportation."
Open Letter to The Honourable Vic Toews:
Border agency broke law with reality TV self-promotion, says BC Civil Liberties Association
Rights watchdog files federal privacy complaint as diverse social justice, labour and migrant groups come together to oppose exploitation of vulnerable people for entertainment.
J4MW BC Statement in Response to "Reality TV Raids" Targeting Migrant Workers in Vancouver
In response to the recent raids conducted in Vancouver by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) in conjunction with a reality TV show called "Border Security: Canada's Front Line" J4MW BC would like to express our outrage and disgust.
The lives, well being, and basic human rights to due process, dignity and privacy, of workers of color and their families are at stake when faced by CBSA raids. To trivialize this and turn it into mediocre entertainment pandering to the racist right wing of the country is plain obscene. Both the CBSA and the corporate entity behind the show, Force Four Entertainment, are engaging in a despicable partnership for propaganda purposes that should be illegal and is morally repugnant.
CBSA and the show's producers have crossed a line here. We join in solidarity will all migrant and immigrant workers, and workers of color - documented or not, permanent or temporary - and with their families and allies in Canada in calling for the cancellation of this show, and for an end to CBSA workplace raids and all harassment, persecution, and scapegoating of migrant workers.
Update: March 16
It has been revealed that the Conservative government, specifically Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the Prime Minister's Office, approved of the Reality TV raids.
This confirms the propagandistic nature of the partnership between CBSA and the show, and reinforces the need to expose it to the public and have the show cancelled and the raids ended.
It further evidences the anti-migrant, racist agenda of Stephen Harper's government and the racist right wing faction that backs it. It falls on heels of the recent announcement that the federal government will officially steal from temporary migrant workers by continuing to deduct EI contributions from their pay while making them ineligible to receive any benefits (see below).
We reaffirm our call for solidarity with migrant workers and their families, and for an end to their targeting, scapegoating and harassment by the Conservative government and its enforcement agencies.
Sign this petition calling for the cancellation of the show:
ATTN: ALL NEWS EDITORS
Migrant rights activists denounce Canada’s Federal Government for stripping away Employment Insurance benefit for migrant workers
December 10, 2012
(Toronto) Migrant worker advocates are angered and shocked to learn that the Federal Government is once again attacking one of Canada’s most vulnerable populations.
Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley announced on December 6th the elimination of Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits (parental, maternal and compassionate benefits) for migrant workers employed under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program. The minister failed to report that these workers will continue to pay into this social protection fund, as they have been doing so since 1966, yet now will no longer be able to collect these benefits.
Junior Sylvester a twelve year veteran of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program says “The elimination of these special benefits violates the nature of the Employment Insurance act that was put into place to protect our families and our children from falling into poverty".
“For over forty years migrant workers have been subsidizing Canada’s EI fund yet have been ‘ineligible’ to receive full benefits, and now they are being completely stripped away from the few special benefits they were able to access. This is completely unjust and outrageous” says Justicia for Migrant Workers’ organizer Adriana Paz Ramirez. Given this situation, Paz Ramirez states that “the fight right now should be to restore this benefit and to fully include migrant workers into social protection programs rather than eliminating access and reinforcing a system that perpetuates exclusion and marginalization of migrant workers”.
Purewal blueberry farm didn't report injured worker's accident
One of North America's largest blueberry farms is being accused of failing to report a serious injury.
An elderly Indo-Canadian farmworker said his knee was mangled and he ingested pesticides in an accident at the Purewal Blueberry Farms Ltd. blueberry field in Pitt Meadows.
Gurdev Khakh, 68, said he was hit by a pesticide trailer that tipped over onto him in April.
Speaking in Punjabi, Khakh told CBC News that the trailer tipped over onto to him as he was walking beside it.
Gurdev Khakh, 68, said he was hit by a pesticide trailer that tipped over in a Purewal Blueberry Farms field in April. (CBC)
He said he shouted for help: "I'm dying, I'm dying."
Khakh's leg was twisted back, his knee was dislocated, and his shoulder was crushed. He said that as the pesticides spilled onto him, he unintentionally ingested them.
"Who knows how dangerous it was. It made my stomach queasy," he said.
Khahk said he was taken by a supervisor to the security office, but an ambulance wasn't called for two hours. Khahk also said his employer failed to report the accident to WorkSafeBC, as required by law.
Khakh spent a month in hospital and now uses a walker to get around. He has now filed a claim for compensation.
History: Purewal workplace safety violations:
1999: Eight violations cited after a worker died. The farm promised to report future safety violations.
2002: WorkSafeBC found nine violations at the farm.
2008: A worker was injured but the farm failed to investigate, resulting in two more violations
2012: WorkSafeBC found another violation after a worker was injured by a co-worker.
Charan Gill, founding president of the Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, said his organization is helping Khakh with the claim.
"Hopefully, WorkSafe will investigate and get at the truth. I think its a true story about a worker who is suffering, who is so dependent he has no money and is still living at their cabins."
After being contacted by CBC, Gary Purewal said the farm didn't see a need to report the accident to WorkSafeBC.
[J4MW note: regardless of Purewal's excuse, fact is the company is obligated by law to report workplace accidents, and in this case they are clearly breaking the law]
He said that Khakh has been collecting his full pay, plus an extra $5,000 while recovering from his injuries.
Khakh told CBC News that he has been getting nothing.
In 2007 J4MW visited Purewal farms and found shocking housing conditions for South Asian and Mexican workers. At the time Purewal was removed from the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program after inspectors discovered violations of housing standards. J4MW wrote a report on housing conditions for migrant workers that documented the situation at Purewal:
Purewal Blueberry Farms, Pitt Meadows BC, 2005:
Housing type: multi bedroom converted house on farm property, as well as temporary housing trailers.
Number of Workers housed: approximately 50
Concerns: unheated trailers, outside open air cooking facilities, enough hot water for only 2 people to have a shower at a time, up to 6 workers in bunks per bedroom, only 1 washing machine, no working clothes dryer (clothes had to be hung up to dry on bunk beds or outside due to lack of space), garbage and wrecked cars dumped around house, one working bathroom for the entire house and trailers, un-maintained and unusable portable bathrooms outside, and extremely run down and dingy conditions in general.
Results: workers organized a work stoppage, and the story was exposed in the local and national media. Most workers returned to Mexico before the end of their work term and a small number remained behind until the end of their contract.
Aquilini fine appeal rejected
By Andrea Woo, Vancouver Sun
WorkSafeBC's review division has rejected an appeal by the Aquilini family over fines levied last year.
Francesco, Roberto and Elisa Aquilini, operating as Geri Partner-ship-Golden Eagle Ranch, were fined $125,402 for safety violations at their berry operation at 15351 Aquilini Ave. in Pitt Meadows.
An inspection in 2010, found vehicles used to transport workers were not "designed, maintained and operated in a safe manner" and were not operated by a properly licensed driver, said a WorkSafeBC inspection report.
Inspections on Sept. 3 and 7, 2010, found the Aquilinis failed to provide workers with "information, instruction, training and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of those workers in carrying out their work and to ensure the health and safety of others at the workplace," according to the report.
The two penalties, each for $62,701, were determined based on the payroll and nature of the violations. They can appeal the review division decision, said Donna Freeman of WorkSafeBC.
"The final level of appeal is WCAT - the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal," she said.
In 2006, J4MW BC visited Golden Eagle farms and reported on abuses committed by managers against Mexican farm workers. It would seem that 6 years later Golden Eagle is still not treating their workers right. It is particularly shamefull given that the Aquilini's are some of the wealthiest people in BC, and with a high public profile that comes from owning the Canucks.
On December 18th, 2011, International Migrants Day, No One Is Illegal Vancouver Coast Salish Territories, Justicia for Migrant Workers, and Philippine Women Centre organized a flash mob.
Forty of our friends and allies sung '12 Days of Deportation Minister Kenney' to our reworked lyrics in shopping malls and streets and public transit throughout the evening.
* Watch and circulate the video (including lyrics):
* View photos:
Under Kenney, Harper, and the Conservatives:
So who are all the migrants coming into Canada?
The number of temporary foreign workers is up 30%. Temporary workers have no rights of residency and are recruited primarily as temporary indentured labour for big business. Kenney’s model is one of Permanent Impermanence. We cannot allow divisive stereotypes of migrants ‘stealing our jobs and resources’ to let the Harper government off the hook for putting profit over the people and the planet. On International Migrants Day, stand with us for migrant dignity and human rights and justice for all.
Guest workers pressured by Mexican officials to decertify unions, says UFCW.
The office of the consulate general for Mexico in Vancouver has been involved in union busting activity among Mexican workers brought to B.C. under federal temporary worker programs, charge lawyers acting for the United Food and Commercial Workers union.
Mexican labour officials, it is alleged, have "choreographed" attempts to de-certify union contracts at B.C. farms. The allegations are contained in complaints filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board on April 19 and 28.
According to documents filed with the board, the government of Mexico, through its Ministry of Labour, violated sections 6(1) and 9 of the provincial labour relations code when it instructed Honorio Corona Martinez, a worker enrolled in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program ( SAWP) and employed in Canada by Floralia Plant Growers Limited of Abbotsford, to initiate a union decertification campaign at Floralia, where the UFCW currently represents workers under an agreement adopted in September of 2009.
April 29, 2011
Supreme Court: farm workers have no right to unionize
Housing Conditions for Temporary Migrant Agricultural Workers in B.C.
April 7, 2006
This letter of complaints was written by the Mexican agricultural workers from the Golden Eagle Group farm in Pitt Meadows, BC, in response to the fact that a series of grave concerns have not been addressed by their employer nor by Mexican consular authorities. This in spite of repeated attempts by the workers to find a solution to their legitimate demands for:
1. Bathrooms, drinking water and a place were they can find cover from the rain while they eat during working days in the fields.
2. More working hours. Currently the workers are being given insufficient working hours that rarely cover the minimum living expenses in Canada, and leave little or nothing to send back to their families in Mexico, which is the main reason why the workers come here in the first place.
3. Fair and respectful treatment by the supervisors and employers.
4. A response to their demands for medical attention without having to pay for it as they are not covered by B.C.'s Medical Services Plan but by RBC Insurance that is limited and insufficient.
5. Compliance with their written work contract which says that they were to work in a greenhouse and not in outdoor blueberry and cranberry farms.
The Mexican workers are employed under Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) negotiated between the governments of Canada and Mexico. Each worker has a contract and is in Canada on a temporary working visa. The migrant Mexican workers are compelled to come to work in Canada as a result of the devastating impact of economic agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the Mexican countryside. Upon arrival in Canada the workers often find themselves in precarious working, living and health situations and routinely face abuse and mistreatment from their employers, who appear to almost completely forget to respect the workers' fundamental labour, economic and human rights such the access to healthcare. The workers' complaints are rarely heard or addressed by either their employers or the Mexican consulate.
The situation exposed in this letter by the workers of Golden Eagle farms is not limited to this particular group of workers but can be considered part of a generalized condition of lack of justice, dignity and respect for the temporary agricultural workers that toil in the majority of Canadian farms, even when those workers come through programs negotiated between both governments to satisfy a need for labour in the agricultural sector. - J4MW BC
J4MW and the BC Federation of Labour held a press conference on May 24, 2006 to denounce the arbitrary termination of Marcos Baac. From left: NDP MLA and Labour Critic Chuck Puchmayr, BC Fed President Jim Sinclair, Marcos Baac, and Pablo Irriberne from the law firm Suleman and Co.
VANCOUVER - May 19, 2006) - Marcos Baac, a Mexican migrant farm worker who was employed by Golden Eagle Farms in Pitt Meadows through a contract under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, received notice on May 9th that he would be sent back to Mexico immediately.
Baac believes that this forced repatriation is a reprisal for being vocal in raising concerns about the farm’s poor working and living conditions. In April 2006, after failed attempts to bring their concerns directly to the employer and the Mexican consulate, Baac, along with 31 other workers at the farm, wrote a public letter outlining several workplace and living condition grievances.
March 22, 2006
(Vancouver) - Migrant farm worker advocates are accusing the BC Liberals of violating Canada's Health care act by denying migrant farm workers access to health care in BC. Justicia for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group fighting for the rights of migrant farm workers in BC is demanding that migrant farm workers from Mexico be immediately included under the province's MSP health insurance scheme, so that they can be given basic health coverage. Mexican workers have already started to come back to BC for the third year in a row, and up to a couple thousand workers are expected this year throughout BC...
Updated June 31, 2013