|Union's response to Mexico's claim of immunity, 6 September 2011|
VANCOUVER, BC - October 17, 2011 - The British Columbia Labour Relations Board (LRB) has been tersely told by Mexico that the LRB does not have the jurisdiction to hear unfair labour charges that the federal government of Mexico and its Vancouver consulate conspired with two BC agriculture operations to blacklist certain Mexican seasonal migrant workers from returning to Canada ever again because they were union sympathizers.
The LRB is presently considering Mexico's claim of sovereign immunity and its assertion that the LRB does not have the authority to rule on how Mexico treats its citizens — in Mexico or in British Columbia. The charges were filed by UFCW Canada Local 1518 — the union the workers joined. The hearing of this matter will resume in February 2012.
The union-busting charges were filed by UFCW Canada Local 1518, which represents migrant agricultural workers at Sidhu and Sons Nursery Limited, and at Floralia Plant Growers Limited in the Lower Mainland. Along with the Mexico Ministry of Labour, and the Mexico Consulate General in Vancouver, both Sidhu and Floralia are also named as parties to the union-busting scheme (Copies of the charges and other evidence are available for download at www.ufcw.ca/mexicocharges ).
Collective bargaining agreements with Local 1518 are in place at both locations, after a majority of workers at Sidhu and Floralia voted to unionize. The migrant workers come to Canada each season under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP) — a bilateral agreement administered by the federal government to which Mexico is a signatory.
UFCW Canada Local 1518 is part of UFCW Canada, the country's largest private-sector union with more than 250,000 members primarily working in the food production and retail sectors.
For more than two decades UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for the labour and workplace rights of both domestic and migrant agriculture workers. In association with Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates ten agriculture workers support centres across Canada, including AWA centres in Surrey, Abbotsford and Kelowna, B.C.
Andy Neufeld, Director of Communications
UFCW Canada Local 1518