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Every other worker in Ontario is covered by labour laws, why not migrant workers?

In a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, CUPE Local 79 President, Tim Maguire, wants the Ontario government to act and put protections, laws, and enforcement in place to ensure that tragic accidents, like the one in Hamptstead, Ontario, won’t happen again.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, Queen’s Park

Dear Premier McGuinty,

 Migrant workers should not be denied basic human rights

 On behalf of the members of the largest municipal local union in Canada, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79, I am calling on the Ontario government to see that justice is done for migrant farm workers in this province and across Canada. Our food system is being supplied by a migrant workforce whose basic human rights are being abused. Migrant workers must have the same rights and protections as every other worker in this country.

 After the tragic accident in Hampstead, Ontario on February 6, 2012, that killed 10 migrant farm workers, the Ontario government must act and put in place protections, laws, and enforcement to ensure that more lives are not lost. The plight of these temporary and seasonal workers must be addressed; now, – no more harm should befall this extremely vulnerable workforce.

 Migrant farm workers have been denied the right to unionize here in Ontario by a Supreme Court decision handed down on April 29, 2011. This ruling runs counter to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) findings in 2010 that found Ontario and Canada guilty of violating international conventions and the human and labour rights of Ontario agricultural workers. One of the most vital protections workers can have, the right to join a union, has been withheld from migrant workers. 

 Premier McGuinty, you must resolve the deplorable working conditions of these workers by actively enforcing Ontario’s Employment Standards’ legislation and the Occupational Health and Safety Act. While every other worker in the province is fully covered by labour laws, migrant workers are working in dangerous conditions, transported in unsafe vehicles, and are fearful of reprisals if they report injuries or unsafe work. 

 Federal and provincial governments must take a strong stand against unscrupulous – and often illegal – recruiters that exploit defenceless migrant workers seeking to make a better life for themselves and their families.

 There must be an inquest called, immediately, into the deaths of these workers. There has never been an inquest into the death of one migrant worker in this country, Premier McGuinty you must act and see that justice is done and call an inquest without delay.

 

Yours truly,

 

Tim Maguire, President

 

c.c.      The Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

             The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

             The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Labour

             Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Labour

             Wayne Hanley, National President, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada

 

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