UFCW Canada calls on Mexican government to stop gender-based discrimination against migrant agriculture workers
Mexico City – July 10, 2014 – Canada’s leading union for migrant workers has filed a formal complaint with the Mexican Human Rights Commission on behalf of women agriculture workers. UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers union) has asked the Commission to send an immediate recommendation to the Mexican government to prohibit employers in Canada from using gender criteria in the selection process of migrant agriculture workers.
With the complicity of the Mexican and Canadian governments, employers involved in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) are able to discriminate against migrant agriculture workers based on their gender. On average, less than 4% of migrant agriculture workers who come to Canada each year are women. When confronted about the low percentage of women, Mexican authorities have washed their hands of the matter and blamed Canadian employers for using gender criteria to choose workers. However, under the Mexico-Canada Memorandum of Understanding the Mexican government is ultimately responsible for overseeing the process by which its citizens are recruited by employers in Canada.
The practice of gender-based discrimination in hiring migrant agriculture workers violates Mexican and Canadian legislation, as well as international treaties on discrimination and equal access to employment. It comes as no surprise that the Harper government is allowing employers participating in the SAWP to violate the human rights of women agriculture workers.
“The governments of Canada and Mexico have a moral obligation to ensure that women are treated equally as migrant agriculture workers and that their rights as workers are upheld,” says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. “Where government has failed, we have succeeded. Unionizationis still the only effective method to protect the rights of agriculture workers.”
For more than a decade, UFCW Canada has been engaged in an epic struggle to secure the rights of migrant and domestic agriculture workers. Together with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), Canada’s most progressive union operates 10 agriculture worker support centres across Canada.