Vancouver – A nation-wide coalition of migrant workers today called on Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau to end the discriminatory practice of tying migrant workers to specific employers and give them permanent status upon arrival.
MoVE – a campaign for Mobility, Voice and Equality for Migrant Workers is simultaneously launched in four Canadian cities (Charlottetown, Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto) by the Coalition for Migrant Workers Rights – Canada (CMWRC). Ten organizations including the B.C. Federation of Labour and the Hospital Worker’s Union, Unifor (?) supported the coalition by speaking at the press conference and sending letters of support.
Asked about the timing of the announcement, Cenen Bagon of the Vancouver Committee for Domestic and Caregiver Rights said “they waited for the new government, hoping that their demands will be more acceptable.”
She said the formation of the coalition is a “historic moment since for over 40 years
there was no single voice advocating for migrant’s workers rights.”
“ We want farm workers to be given the right to negotiate their contracts,” says Raul Gatica of the Migrant’s Workers Dignity Association who advocates for farm labourers. “Right now, it is only the employers and the governments that negotiates their contracts,” he adds.
David Fairey of the B.C. Standards Coalition says changes to the temporary worker’s program is “long overdue” calling it a “form of indentured slavery”. “If temporary workers are endangered, then all workers are endangered,” he asserted.
The coalition says “changing employers is extremely difficult allowing bad bosses to lower salaries and work conditions. This creates pressure to reduce salaries and erode work conditions for all workers.”
To end this downward cycle the coalition wants to untie the permits so workers have the ‘mobility’ to leave employers who exploit them and reorient the system to secure, permanent immigration that protects ‘voice’ and ‘equality’ for workers.
The founding members of CMWRC include the Cooper Institute (PEI), Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, Canada’s largest migrant worker rights coalition, Migrante Canada, Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (Okanagan Valley), Temporary Foreign Workers Association in Quebec, Temporary Foreign Workers Coalition in Alberta and theVancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregiver Rights (Vancouver).
CUPE backgrounder: http://cupe.ca/fact-sheet-temporary-foreign-workers-program