Vancouver – March 21, 2014 – The BC Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) has ruled that Mexican government and consular officials blacklisted Mexican seasonal migrant workers from returning to Canada who were suspected of being union sympathizers. The board also found that Mexico had altered documents in an attempt to cover up its union-busting activities. The evidence had been presented to the BC Labour Relations Board in 2012, by UFCW Canada Local 1518 – the union representing migrant workers at Sidhu & Sons Nursery Limited in the BC Lower Mainland.
Thursday's ruling by the BCLRB comes after three years of legal wrangling by Mexico to stall and quash the charges against it. "It has been a long battle, but finally the truth has won out," said Ivan Limpright, the president of UFCW Canada Local 1518, following Monday's ruling. "Every worker in Canada has the right to join a union, including migrant workers. Mexico's blacklisting and coercion violated Canadian laws and the rights of the workers involved."
The blacklisting charges had originally been brought to the board in 2011. Hearings and testimony commenced at the labour board in January 2012. The hearings were temporarily suspended after Mexico petitioned to the BC Supreme, on the grounds of sovereign immunity, to force the labour board to quash the evidence it had received – including leaked Mexico government documents, as well as testimony from former consular officials that corroborated the blacklisting activity. The BC Supreme Court ruled against Mexico's petition, and upheld the BCLRB's right to finally rule on the blacklisting evidence.
"Mexico reached across our borders to blacklist and break the human and labour rights of workers in our country," says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. "Mexican President Peña Nieto is well aware of what happened here, despite the denials of his bureaucrats and consular officials. The time for pretending is over. Now it is time to respect the laws of Canada."
UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers union) is Canada's leading and most progressive private-sector union, with more than 250,000 members across the country. For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has led a campaign for the labour and human rights of domestic and agriculture workers in Canada. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates 10 agriculture worker support centres across the country, including three AWA centres in British Columbia.