For years, the rights of migrant agriculture workers have been abused and neglected across Canadian fields. What’s worse, employers are able to treat migrant workers as disposable thanks to the support and complicity of the workers’ own governments. In particular, the Mexican government has played a shameful role by threatening and blacklisting workers who decide to speak up or seek help.
Seeing how institutions that we trust to be impartial and do justice are, at best, slow to address these issues, on May 23, 2012 we will come together to stage a community trial. This will be a light-hearted street theater event where the case of these blacklisting activities will be presented by Raj Chouhan, acting as our community’s lawyer, who will advocate for migrant workers’ rights to be respected. The defense lawyer, Mr. Dee Plomat, will present the perspective of the Mexican Consulate. Then, a panel of three community judges -Joey Hartman of the Vancouver and Labour District Council, and Geoff Meggs and Niki Sharma, of the City of Vancouver- will help guide the dialogue with their observations and deliberations. At the end, the community will get to vote and issue its verdict.
As concerned members of the community, who are not willing to stand by while migrant workers from Mexico suffer and continue being treated as second-class members of our communities, we are sure you will come with us! Feel free to bring noise makers and signs, and be prepared to write your thoughts and leave messages to the Mexican Consulate.
What: Community Trial on the Blacklisting of Mexican Migrant Agriculture Workers by the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver
When: May 23, 2012, 12:00 PM
Where: In front of the Mexican Consulate (411-1177 West Hastings)
Info: Facebook | firstname.lastname@example.org | 604-833-4497 & 604-828-0548
Organizers: Agriculture Workers Alliance and UFCW Canada
Every year, thousands of migrant agriculture workers from Mexico come to work in Canadian fields under the Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (SAWP). Their contributions to Canada’s economy are tremendous: they work for up to 15 hours a day, 7 days a week; they pay taxes, Employment Insurance, and contribute to the Canadian Pension Plan. Unfortunately, they are not treated with the dignity or respect that we think every worker in Canada is entitled to. When workers face sickness, injuries in the workplace, or abuse from employers, they are virtually alone, their own government rarely defending them.
In particular, the Mexican Consulate of Vancouver has a practice of giving the workers “workshops” when they arrive to Canada, where they tell them that if they complain about their working conditions, cause trouble to their employers, or speak to anybody other than their employers they will lose their jobs. Many workers have in fact lost their jobs and have been blacklisted because they sought help, got sick, or asked questions about their rights. In response, UFCW & the AWA sued the Mexican Consulate of Vancouver, as well as Floralia Farms & Sidhu Nurseries before the Labour Board on May 9, 2011. During the hearings, the Mexican government claimed diplomatic immunity, and is betting that this will allow them to remove themselves from the case.
UFCW & the AWA have partnered with faith-based organizations, members of the Latin American community and the community at large, academics, unions, the media, and all people of kind hearts to denounce these cynical arguments. Together, we have staged 6 events in front of the Mexican Consulate and the Labour Board, as well as marches and events in Mexico, to denounce the Mexican Consulate’s activities. From a Migrant Workers Rights’ Funeral to writing letters to Santa for the rights of migrants to be respected, to a New Year’s wish for migrant workers, the Community Trial is a continuation of this international campaign against the blacklisting of migrant agriculture workers. Please visit ufcw.ca/stoptheblacklist for more information.