Migrant workers learn about health and safety, open work permits at UFCW barbeque


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Leamington, Ont. – October 10, 2019 – Migrant farm workers from across the Windsor-Essex area recently joined UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) for an end-of-summer barbeque and a workshop on health and safety held at the AWA Workers Support Centre in Leamington, Ontario.

At the event, participants learned about their rights in the workplace and how to obtain an open work permit for those experiencing abuse on the job. Workers were also informed about the three basic aspects of health and safety in the workplace, including the right to refuse unsafe work, the right to participate, and the right to know.

In addition to the workshops, attendees were provided with a delicious barbeque meal prepared by migrant workers, volunteers, and UFCW Canada staff.

During the event, workers highlighted the need for mandatory health and safety training for participants enrolled in Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), noting that agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs in Canada and is responsible for nearly eighty workplace fatalities per year.

“I was forced to work in the rain on top of a trailer, while loading chickens on the third floor of a barn. It was very high up and I did not have a harness or waterproof clothing. I also received perpetual harassment from the supervisor. I’m happy to have attended this workshop as I will apply to get an open work permit with the help of UFCW,” said Luis Martinez, a migrant worker from Mexico who has been working in Canada for six months.

To date, UFCW and the AWA have been able to help seven workers obtain an open work permit at no cost, and six more applications are currently being reviewed.

For more than three decades, UFCW has led the fight for migrant workers’ rights in Canada. In collaboration with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates a national, on-the-ground network of Worker Support Centres with staff and volunteers helping thousands of migrant workers navigate and enforce their current legal rights and entitlements, as well as providing health and safety and “know your rights” training. To learn more about this important work, click here.

How can I enforce my rights at work?

If you are a migrant worker who is experiencing abuse from an employer or unsafe working conditions, contact us toll-free at 1-877-778-7565. All contact with UFCW Canada is treated as strictly confidential.