MEXICO, D.F. – May 18, 2011 – Workers, academics, legislators and renowned unionists held a media conference at the UFCW office in Mexico to outline allegations of anti-unionist activities by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour against Mexican migrant workers in Canada.
On Wednesday, May 18, UFCW representatives in Mexico City presented to the national press documents that pointed at the Mexican Consulate as allegedly responsible for a repression campaign against Mexican agriculture migrant workers in Canada. At this event a broad coalition condemned the alleged actions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In support of this coalition and to express solidarity with agriculture migrant Mexican workers, Max Correa, General Secretary to the CCC, Gerardo Sanchez, President of CNC, Senator Alfonso Toledo Infanzon and ex-deputy Alberto Amaro Corona, were present. Jose Cortes and Victor Robles, workers, shared their experience in Canada and reported the retaliation that they were subject to by the Mexican Ministry of Labour.
“From these precise reports from migrant workers across the country, we make a strong call to labour authorities and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to stop the harassment and human and labour rights violations that agriculture migrant workers are victims of,” declared Max Correa. "We urge the legislators to commence a full investigation around these charges, possibly including the international labour courts, if appropriate”.
Deputy Gerardo Sanchez confirmed his support of the UFCW's work to uphold agriculture workers’ rights. “We, from the Permanent Commission, are going to ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Labour Ministry to appear at the Permanent Commission, in order for them to inform us of what has happened, and to assure the commission that the right for migrant workers to join a union will be respected.”
A leaked document was recently filed with the British Columbia Labour Ministry of Labour to support allegations made against the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver of alleged anti-union activities. The document indicated that the Consulate was suspect in the creation of black lists preventing union sympathizers from returning to work to Canada. Sidhu and Floralia Farms in British Columbia employ migrant workers from Mexico who arrive in Canada each season under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP). After a successful organizing campaign, the workers created a union and successfully negotiated a collective agreement that guaranteed seniority, and recall rights to work each season and return to Canada. But this season, their files were blocked at the Ministry in Mexico, and they were informed that they would not be returning to Canada.
UFCW Canada is the country’s largest private-sector union and a leader in the fight for agriculture workers rights. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates ten support centres for agriculture workers across the country. The British Columbia Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) is expected to review the charges sometime over the next month.