VANCOUVER, BC - January 30, 2012 - A protest at the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver got personal as dozens of community and labour activists gathered to show their support for Victor Robles in the wake of his alleged blacklisting by Mexico and its consular staff in Vancouver.
Robles is a Mexican migrant worker who has filed a declaration with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) stating he was blacklisted from returning to work at a BC agriculture operation because he was suspected of being a union supporter at the farm. Robles is one of a number Mexican migrant workers allegedly blacklisted by Mexico and two BC farm employers.
Chanting "Stop the blacklisting. Victor is one of us, we want him back!" the protesters circled in front of the consulate building. It was the fourth major Vancouver protest in the last three months regarding blacklisting charges filed with the BCLRB, including Robles' case.
Victor Robles had worked seasonally from 2006 to 2010 at Sidhu and Sons Nursery in the Lower Mainland. In preparing to return to Canada from Mexico in February 2011, he was told by the Mexican Ministry of Labour he could not because of visa problems. Robles alleges he was then later told by another Mexican government clerk that according to government computer records, "the real reason Robles was blocked from travel was because he had participated in a union."
Robles' allegations are contained in his declaration filed with the BCLRB, along with copies of leaked faxes allegedly from the Mexico Vancouver consulate which name Robles as a union activist. The evidence is part of union busting charges filed by UFCW Canada Local 1518 against Mexico, its Vancouver consulate, and Sidhu as well as Floralia Growers in the Lower Mainland. Union collective agreements are in place at both farms, after a majority of migrant workers at both locations voted to unionize (for background on the case see: www.ufcw.ca/stoptheblacklist ). The BCLRB will commence hearing the charges on February 20. In the meantime, Mexico and its Vancouver consulate have claimed sovereign immunity.
UFCW Canada is the country's largest private-sector union and in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) operates 10 agriculture worker support centres across Canada. UFCW Canada represents agriculture workers at a number of agriculture operations in British Columbia and Quebec.