December 26, 2008

Hands in the soil for us

One of the things I noticed in my new home here in Nova Scotia, were the numbers of Jamaican agricultural workers in the vegetable fields in the Annapolis Valley. Harvesting lettuce, carrots, hoeing brassicas, crowds of colorful workers out in the hot fields all day long.
All across Canada, horticultural crops are coming under the care of workers who pay hefty administrative fees to come work for 8 months to in farm fields.

Over Christmas, over a hundred Mexican, Guatemalan and Jamaican workers in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program were terminated and evicted with a few days notice by Rol-Land Farms in Ontario, despite a recent court decision allowing workers to unionize.
"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." more

"Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada stated, “these waves of firings and repatriations are testaments to the failures of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Canada needs programs that bring workers here as permanent residents, not programs that treat immigrants as second class workers and disposable tools.”
Read more and here

Here is the press release from Justicia for Migrant Workers, if you can help:

Community Support Alert!!!

Justicia for Migrant Workers is collaborating with UFCW to respond to the firings and repatriations of migrant workers at Rol-Land Farms who came to Canada through the "Low Skill Temporary Foreign Worker Program"

Workers were recruited from Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand and Jamaica and paid high recruitment and administrative fees in order to come to Canada to work through this program. Now they are being forced to go home without a cent back to their families for the holiday season.

Workers need the following:

1. emergency shelter/ short, medium and longer-term housing for
workers who choose to stay in the country (workers are able to remain in the country until their visas expire)
2. access to vehicles/help with transportation
3. translation (English - Spanish, Tagalog & Thai)
4. donations of toiletries
5. donations of food including Maseca flour to make tortillas
6. monetary donations to Justicia for Migrant Workers (Justicia does not have paid staff nor an office-we do this work voluntarily as community organisers alongside other paid employment and academic work)
7. advice/expertise on Employment Insurance and Settlement issues

contact us: info "at" justicia4migrantworkers "dot" org

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