Foreign workers decry 'harsh' dismissals from farms



From Friday's Globe and Mail

December 12, 2008 at 5:18 AM EST

Migrant farm workers are being pushed into cramped housing and fired without cause because of flaws in the government's temporary foreign worker program, labour activists say.

Some of the 70 workers dismissed last week by a Canadian-owned mushroom-farming company spoke out yesterday about what it was like to be fired without notice, two weeks before Christmas.

"It's pretty harsh. We have families in our countries," said Carlos, a worker from Guadalajara hired by Rol-Land Farms as a Spanish translator.

Carlos - the workers asked that their last names not be used - said his bosses called on his day off to say his employment had been terminated, and that in two days a bus would take him to the airport so he could return to Mexico.

It felt like a deportation, said Gorge, also from Guadalajara. "They didn't give us time to think, to choose. They just said, you have to leave the apartment, because they provide the apartment." He and three other men each paid the company $320 a month to stay in the small two-bedroom suite, he said.

Both men said they plan to stay in Canada and look for other jobs, but union officials said many of their co-workers had returned to their home countries before anyone could tell them their two-year work visas allowed them to stay.

Rol-Land Farms, a multimillion-dollar company based in Blenheim, Ont., 100 kilometres southwest of London, is owned by the Vander Pol family. They declined comment yesterday.

Given the current economic situation, it shouldn't be surprising the workers were let go, said Mark Wales, who deals with labour issues for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

"Every day, there are thousands of people losing their jobs all around the world," he said. "Why would a farm in Ontario be any different?"

In the past, the company has been accused of firing workers who tried to unionize. At the news conference held yesterday by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, Carlos and Gorge said none of the Mexicans, Jamaicans or Guatemalans fired last week had been trying to join the union.

It is illegal for agricultural workers in Ontario to unionize, but a decision last month by the Ontario Court of Appeal gave the province 12 months to rewrite the Agricultural Employees Protection Act to allow collective bargaining.

What happened to the Rol-Land farm workers exemplifies everything that's wrong with Ottawa's temporary foreign worker program, according to Dr. Jenna Hennebry, who heads the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University.

"There's a great fear of replacement, of reprimand, of forced repatriation, a loss of pay, a loss of deposits to unregulated recruitment agencies, in particular cases. There's also problems in some cases of immediate eviction, as we've seen in this case."

The program is jointly managed by several agencies in both the federal and provincial governments. That's part of the problem, said Derry McKeever, an advocate with Friends of Farmworkers, a Chatham community activist group. He said migrant workers in Chatham live in houses without proper heat, water or electricity.

"Yesterday, we received a letter from the Minister of Labour saying that it's not a provincial responsibility. The municipality says it's not a municipal responsibility. The federal government says it's not a federal responsibility. Whose responsibility is it to take care of workers like this?" he asked.

Jason Bouzanis, a spokesman for Human Resources and Social Development Canada, said in an e-mail that foreign workers should report any abuse to provincial authorities, because they are supposed to have the same labour rights as Canadians.




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa Where constitutional rights are trashed, Canada wrote:

Canada portrays an image of a "just society" with a "charter of rights and freedoms" where the Mounties are the sole police in a society that's white as its frozen winter north.
Canada in reality is a sick society where justice only exists if you are the right gender and don't fall into something that might be called a minority. Immigrants from even English speaking countries end up only able to obtain jobs that no Canadian will take, employers know it and treat is a normal to treat any immigrant worker as disposable. Immigrants are routinely treated in a way that that no Canadian who can afford a lawyer would tolerate.
Canadian , Ontario Family Courts now issue virtual deportation orders simply because an underbelly of the judiciary decide to flagrantly abuse their powers on those they think they can exercise what can only be called sheer terror.
Canada, has a judicial system that is worse than many third worlds and its caused by hiring judges who have no hesitation in making it very public just how willing they are to bring the administration of justice into ill repute.



You Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa Family Court where litigants are treated like mushrooms., Canada wrote: Interestingly, these workers worked at a "mushroom farm", its a bit hard to see how the economy has affected the eating of vegetables.
Mushrooms are economical food, the sudden coincidental lay offs after the introduction of a union is extremely hard to believe that the lay offs are genuine.
What makes it disgusting is that the company reportedly failed to advise the workers of their right to obtain alternative employment and of their decision to effectively turf them out of the country.
The Ontario Judiciary operate like mushroom farms, they keep the public in the dark and feed them pure excrement. Its done by keeping the dirtiest decisions "non published" and intimidate as much as possible anyone from recording the proceedings. That's how self represented male Canadian litigants are treated. Immigrants on a temporary work permit can expect the judiciary to come down on the side that has the money and the politically correct identification.