Activist group condemns recent repatriation of migrant farm workers

Migrant Workers on the job

Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a grassroots activist group, has condemned the recent repatriation of seven Jamaican migrant farm worker who raised issues regarding alleged workplace harassment and deplorable housing conditions.

According to a group of seven Jamaican workers, the seven workers were terminated after organizing a workplace stoppage regarding working and living conditions. The terminations occurred on the weekend that people across Canada celebrated Emancipation Day.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Randy Boissonault, Minister of Employment, and Workforce Development and Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship, the activist group noted that “as several workers involved in the stoppage were sent home, other workers are raising concerns that they could be next.”

The letter also pointed out that “at the same time as workers were being repatriated, the employer was permitted to hire a new group of workers from another source country.”

“Both the premature repatriation and the employment of new workers are attempts by the employer to suppress workplace resistance,” it said.

“We raise these concerns to your government because they are indicative of system-wide problems, and it is insufficient to resolve these on an individual basis.” Justice for Migrant Workers noted.

The activist group is demanding that the following steps are undertaken:

– Permanent status for all current and former migrant workers

– An end to the tied work permit system

–  An end to unilateral repatriations and disbarment from employment in Canada

– Full inclusion in programs such as Employment Insurance, Healthcare and Canada Pension Plan

– Sectoral bargaining for all workers employed under the Temporary Foreign Worker program

– Access to healthcare

– Access to education