Don’t believe the hype! RBC layoffs not about foreigners vs. Canadians

Once again the temporary foreign worker program has erupted in controversy where it is being used to pit workers against each other.

News reports point out that the Royal Bank of Canada has decided to move its information technology department abroad. To do so, it has brought in temporary workers from India that will learn the ropes from their Canadian counterparts. Following this training, the Canadian workers will be laid off, and the Indian workers will transition the IT department to India and return there.

This is not a story of so-called “foreign” workers coming to replace “Canadians”. It is a story of broken immigration laws where workers can be brought in to do short-term dirty work that no one else wants to do and can then be removed at the whim of the employers.

Many facts are yet unknown: how much are the migrant workers being paid? Did they have to pay fees to get these jobs? Were they promised citizenship? Will they be able to get basic services while here? All this needs to be determined.

What we do know is that 45 bank workers are being laid off to be replaced temporarily by migrant workers. This sort of ruthless denial of work to everyday people is deplorable and not surprising.

The Canada Centre for Policy Alternatives believes that Federal government layoffs of public servants will result in nearly 70,000 job losses by 2014-15. This past March, Canada lost over 54,000 net jobs because of Conservative policies. Getting rid of workers is what the Tories do best.

At the same time, Employment Insurance has been cut so that people are forced to go back to work sooner, at lower wages, and further away from their homes. Add to this mix a free-for-all season on migrant workers whose labour and immigration rights are being trampled upon and we have the perfect recipe for the downward spiral of wages.

Responding to any one of these concerns will result in incorrect solutions. The answer cannot be banning migrant workers from entering Canada.

We must emphasize an expansive, robust and inclusive immigration framework with full citizenship rights and benefits for migrants coming to work in this country. This must be done with corresponding labour reforms that protect the rights of all workers — migrants and Canadians. Doing so will mean an upward push on wages, and the ability for more people to safely fight and organize against the Harper agenda. Continue reading “Don’t believe the hype! RBC layoffs not about foreigners vs. Canadians”

Justice for Ned Livingston Peart

Who:  Migrant Worker, allies and community groups

What: Human Rights Tribunal into death of migrant worker Ned
Livingston Peart

When: April 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th 26th and June 28th 2013

Where: Ontario Human Rights Tribunal 655 Bay (between Dundas and College) 14th Floor

Time: 9:30-4:30pm

Human Rights Tribunal Hearing on April 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th 26th and June 28th, 2013 (655 Bay street 14th floor from 9 30 am to 4 30 pm)

The Peart case concerns the refusal of the Office of the Chief Coroner to grant an inquest into the death of a Jamaican farm worker, Ned Peart, brought to Ontario through the Commonwealth Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP) at an Ontario tobacco farm in 2002. The worker’s family sought to have a coroner’s inquest held into the death of Mr. Peart because of concerns regarding the safety of Mr. Peart’s working conditions. The applicant, the brother of the dead worker, brought a complaint to the Human Rights Commission in the summer of 2005 asserting that s. 10(5) of the Coroners Act, which provides that a mandatory inquest will be held for certain types of workers while excluding others, violates the Code because such provisions have an adverse impact on the applicant and migrant workers in Ontario.

No death of any migrant worker has ever been the subject of a coroner’s inquest.
The application, which seeks an inquest into Mr. Peart’s death and broader systemic reforms of the manner in which the Office of the Chief Coroner investigates the deaths of migrant agricultural workers, seeks to ensure a safer worker environment for all migrant agricultural workers in this province. More broadly this application permits the HRTO to consider the status of migrant agricultural workers within the context of the requirements of the Code, which potentially could positively impact the status of workers in the CSAWP and other temporary migrant worker programs because of the intersection between the Code and the harassment, discrimination and exclusion inflicted on such workers.

The Peart family’s central argument is that because of the unique vulnerability faced by migrant workers brought to Canada under the CSAWP, migrant workers like Ned Peart are adversely affected by the exclusionary structure of the Coroner’s Act. Continue reading “Justice for Ned Livingston Peart”