On March 23, 2011, about 30 UFCW Canada delegates and various allies from across the country will take a stand at the 13th National Metropolis Conference — Immigration: Bringing the World to Canada to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Metropolis Conference has historically been a place for the federal departments of the HRSDC and CIC to pat themselves on the back while being willfully blind to the inhumanity of the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program.
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As part of our ongoing national outreach to immigrant and migrant worker communities, in March 2009, UFCW Canada along with 15 UFCW Canada activists from across the country took part in the Metropolis Conference in Calgary, Alberta.
In 2010, in Montreal, UFCW Canada again made history, this time with almost 25 activists from UFCW Canada Local Unions 1518, 401, 1000A, 500R, 501, and 503, by leading the 50-person strong progressive caucus of activists at the conference. Where governments and academics spoke about the TFWP being a model program, UFCW Canada activists were there in a coordinated manner to make sure that all were aware that it is only a model program for injustice, state sponsored brutality and worker abuse. UFCW Canada again encompassed the largest labour contingent at the 2010 conference, and through participation as panelists and participants, and shoulder to shoulder with our community allies, succeeded in raising the profile of the exploitation of migrant workers amongst over 1,000 participating representatives from government and national and local community groups.
Together we were the predominant voice of resistance to employer calls for lowering of employment protections for temporary migrant and immigrant workers in the name of “flexibility”. UFCW Canada Local 832 and Local 1000A also continued to raise the profile of Canadian abuses of migrant workers on the international stage by participating in the International Metropolis Conference in October, 2010.
As with our delegation in 2010, UFCW Canada, the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) and community allies such as Migrante B.C. and Migrante Canada will be mobilizing once again at Metropolis 2011 to ensure that the federal government and its provincial allies does not sell the TFWP as a model program because we know that it is a national embarrassment.
“As one of the largest immigration based conferences in Canada, one of the primary impetuses for our strong and vocal attendance at Metropolis is to ensure that the story and allies of migrants are heard loudly. Whether it is at plenary discussion or workshops, UFCW Canada delegates and allies in Montreal in 2010 and Calgary in 2009 were able to decisively respond to the misinformation campaign promoted by the federal and some provincial governments” said UFCW Canada President Wayne Hanley.
“In Vancouver, we will again strategically mobilize to ensure that such myopic analysis which commodify migrant workers with little care for their well being, are not left unanswered.”
HIGHLIGHTS OF UFCW CANADA’S UPCOMING INVOLVEMENT
AT THE 2011 METROPOLIS CONFERENCE:
UFCW CANADA/MIGRANTE CANADA “GEWGES” RESISTANCE BOOTH:
The centre of operations for our various initiatives at the Metropolis Conference will be our GEWGES (“Good Enough to Work, Good Enough to Stay”) Resistance Booth. Starting on March 23, and running through to March 26, there will be a UFCW Canada interactive, media-rich display table highlighting the many UFCW Canada, AWA and Migrante documents, posters, academic studies, and informational packages that are available to all delegates.
Hundreds will be coming by and checkout our Migrant Worker Book of Abuse; pick up some free bottles of Jason Kenney Hand Sanitizer; a copy of the National Report on the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada 2010-2011; and the UFCW Canada National Report on the Status of Migrant Workers 2011. Learn about our regional, national, and international initiatives. Take the 2 minute Migrant Worker Quiz. Come and chat about the most recent edition of the Exploitation Express. Join the UFCW Canada HRED Email List Serve - the largest migrant worker email list serve in Canada. Speak out at our roaming Speaker’s Corner and have your say on our website, or just visit us at www.ufcw.ca/socialjustice to get more information about our regional, national and international strategic initiatives on behalf of migrant workers.
PRESS CONFERENCE AND PUBLIC FORUM:
UFCW Canada and Migrante B.C. will be hosting a press conference and public forum for the media, community advocates, and the general public entitled Migrant Workers@ Denny’s: Equal in Rights? to highlight the $10 Million lawsuit filed by Herminia Dominguez on behalf of migrant workers at Denny's in B.C., as well as to bring attention to the perilous TFWP and upcoming legislative changes.
Presenters include Naveen P. Mehta, UFCW Canada; Maita Santiago, Migrante B.C.; Christopher J. Foy, Kestrel Workplace Legal Counsel; Herminia Dominguez, the Representative Plaintiff, in the Denny’s Class Action Lawsuit; and Janet Dench, of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights, Naveen Mehta will be active as a presenter at a workshop entitled “Mapping Migration From The Americas: Exploring Migration Flows To Canada From Latin America And The Caribbean” with several academics. Similarly, Virgilio Ayala, Coordinator of the St. Eustache AWA Support Centre will be presenting at the workshop “Being a Temporary Foreign Worker In Canada: Human Rights, Regulations, And Cultural, Social And Economic Experiences”
THE DENNY’S DEMO:
PICK UP YOUR COPY OF THE EXPLOITATION EXPRESS: METROPOLIS EDITION:
If you are interested in the truth then you’ll want to read the Exploitation Express. This UFCW Canada HRED News Magazine will be in all 1,100 conference kits to ensure that all of the delegates have a better understanding of what the TFWP is doing to strip away our “nation building” capacity while dehumanizing some of the most vulnerable workers in Canada.