When: December 13, 2011 at 5:00pm
Where: Norfolk County Administration Building
50 Colborne St. South
On December 13, 2011, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is urging community members and allies to attend this important county council meeting and support the rights of migrant workers to live in our communities. Justicia for Migrant Workers are urging allies to provide deputations in support of the right of migrant workers. Recently in Norfolk county there has been strong opposition from local community members of Windham Centre to oppose the conversion of a former elementary school into a bunkhouse for migrant workers. Some community members have expressed concern that if migrant workers are to be permitted to live next to them the sheer number of migrants will lead to “a potential increase in crime, pressure on existing water and septic systems, and a decrease in local property values” according to the local newspaper. A resident was quoted in the same story arguing that the migrant workers should not permitted to live at the potential site because its not adjoined to the employer’s property. The resident argues “A bunkhouse is supposed to be on the property where (the workers) are employed and where they are under supervision.”
The comments are unacceptable and offensive to the dignity of the men and women who grow our food. Furthermore, these disturbing comments expose a trend of racism that appears to be too common in farming areas where the presence of migrant workers is essential to their economy. Migrant workers are welcome to toil in our fields but they are not good enough to live as our neighbours.
J4MW strongly condemns the xenophobic and racist response from the community to the tentative arrival of approximately 40 migrant workers to their community. Rather than attack the workers and deny their presence in Windham centre, J4MW is urging that:
– migrant worker rights to be respected by the community
– refocus efforts to ensure that migrant housing is protected through Landlord tenant legislation which currently excludes agricultural operations.
– bunkhouse and other migrant farmworkers housing is open to inspection from migrant rights organization such as J4MW.
– migrant workers rights at work are respected and that steps will be provided to ensure anti-reprisal measures against workers who want to complain relating to working and living conditions.
Newspapers links for references:
Migrant bunkhouse plan for Windham Centre meets with resistance-Simcoe Reformer
Company Defends Plans for Former School- Brantford Expositor
For more information
December 2, 2011, TORONTO – The Ontario Labour Relations Board has ordered an end to the 11-week strike at the Chinese Canadian newspaper Ming Pao Daily. The union contract will be decided within weeks by an arbitrator.
The Labour Board issued a scorching 14-page decision, placing the blame for the impasse at the feet of the employer for failing to recognize the legitimacy of the union and refusing to negotiate fairly.
“This is a great victory and the strikers want to thank the community and the labour movement for the support throughout the last three months,” said Union Chair Simon Sung, a graphic artist at the newspaper. “The families of the strikers were behind us too, and that made all of the difference.”
When the strike began, the union and the company were at odds over wages and job security. During bargaining, the company laid off 10 employees including the chair and vice chair of the union bargaining team. Legal proceedings regarding those layoffs continue at the Labour Board later this month.
For further information contact Simon Sung at 647-404-9428 or Paul Morse, president of CEP Local 87-M Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild at 1-905-536-5650.
Oct 20th – ACLA, CBTU and LATUC held a popular trial to charge Stephen Harper and his corporate and political partners for crimes against the people. Special witnesses came forward to provide testimonies and evidence towards the charges. The people watched as one witness after the other talked about the systematic violation of our economic, political, social and environmental rights as individuals, communities and nations. After hearing the presentations, the jury went into deliberations and before long, they came to a unanimous decision. The People’s Court reconvened and the jury shouted out their verdict – GULITY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!
Special thanks to Our Times Magazine and Ryerson Sam Gindin Chair for co-sponsoring this event and a very special thank you to our witnesses, performers and facilitators for the evening:
- Alex Felipe, Bayan Ontario
- Beixi Liu, Worker’s Action Center
- Maria Hernandez, Mayan Activist and Author
- New Tradition Music
- Philippine Advocacy through Arts and Culture (PATAC)
- Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members and staff
- Rangel Ramos, Labour/ Human Right Activist and LATUC
- Tanya Ferguson, Justice for Migrant Workers
- Tzazna Miranda Leal, Justice for Migrant Workers
ACLA solidarity picket with MingPao strikers
Next Tuesday morning (October 18th) there will be a solidarity picket for striking employees of Ming Pao newspaper in Scarborough, starting at 8:00 am at 1355 Huntingwood Dr west of McCowan. The 140-member bargaining unit went out on September 21st to achieve a first contract. They deserve your support!
Strike support for the Toronto Ming Pao workers occurred in Hong Kong last week at the Ming Pao headquarters. In attendance was union vice-chair Allen Lam and activist Anita Cheng. They were also joined by Cheuk-yan Lee, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. For more go to www.song.on.ca
On August 20th, ACLA members, friends and supporters gathered together to participate in the United Way York Region Dragon Boat Race. Team ACLA, comprised of 20 paddlers, were eager to show their spirits and commitment to change on the water. Although the races were tough, the presence of Team ACLA supporters cheering from the sidelines were definitely unmatched. A very special thank you to ACLA member and Team Captain, Jennifer Huang, for coordinating ACLA’s participation in this worthwhile cause.
ACLA members laying the wreath
The images of Chinese workers toiling under deplorable working conditions are a stark reminder of Canada’s hidden and racist past. Over 17,000 workers came to toil on Canada’s Railway. Approximately 4,000 of these men did not return home. Chinese workers were given the most dangerous, dirty and deplorable occupations during the building of the railroad which laid the bedrock for the expansion of Canada. For its part, Canada has apologized for its past action through the use of symbolic gestures.
While today we commemorate the sacrifices and contribution of the Chinese railroad workers as an important Canadian treasure, as a country we have to ask ourselves what have we learnt from the past? If we scratch beneath the surface of ceremonies, good intentions and tokenism, are today’s racialized immigrants treated any better than those that came before us? The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance argues that much more still needs to be done in the area of race and labour in Canada. Racialized and immigrant workers today face greater precarious working conditions than workers employed in Canada a generation ago. Last year the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) in conjunction with the Chinese Interagency Network (CIN) released a report highlighting specific experiences that Chinese workers face in Toronto. The report concluded that the protections enshrined in existing labour laws and practices were largely unknown to the Chinese immigrant workers who were interviewed. Interviews recounted worker’s experiences of working over 70 hours a week and earning only $4 dollars an hour. The report found that 40% of interviewees did not know what the current minimum wage was in Ontario and more than two thirds of workers were not aware of rights under overtime pay and holiday pay. These findings are similar to findings undertaken by other communities showing a greater divide between those with jobs with protection and those without. Workers are not simply facing abuses in their wages, but the work undertaken by immigrants also tends to be more dangerous.
Workplace injuries and fatalities are still a tragic daily reminder of the conditions facing workers across Canada. In 2009 close to 1,000 workers died at work. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board in 2010 over 300 workers died at work while nearly 200,000 others were injured in Ontario. The media has reported numerous workplace fatalities involving racialized and immigrant workers.Immigration laws have always placed restrictions on immigrants. The Chinese railroad workers were not permitted to apply for residency in Canada. Threats of deportations, and the constant prospect of not being able to provide for their families coerced many to work under deadly conditions. Over one hundred years later our labour and immigration laws still work in tandem to deny hundreds of thousands of workers decent working conditions in Canada. In 2010 Canada accepted more temporary foreign workers (migrants employed under similar restrictions as the railroad workers) than those coming to Canada as permanent residents. Hundreds of thousands more work without status or under a precarious immigration status that may deny them the ability to exert labour and other civil rights. In 2007 two Chinese migrant workers were crushed to death when a tank collapsed upon them in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The migrant workers were employed by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd who were subsequently charged with 53 violations under Alberta’s Health and Safety Act. The migrant workers employed under the auspices of Canada’s ‘Temporary Foreign Workers Program’ (TFW) like the over 280,000 others currently in Canada cannot exert workplace rights and many are tied to employer specific work permits thus denying them labour and social mobility in Canada. That is, although they may be working in Canada, they are not protected under Canadian law.
To honour the memory of the Chinese workers, and the thousands of others who have died because of dangerous working conditions, it is imperative that labour laws be reformed to protect the most marginalized, the most vulnerable workers in our communities. Enforcement of our laws should not be incumbent of the disadvantaged being left to fend for themselves but by both levels of governments providing the following (1) proactive inspections of workplaces (2) loosening the obstacles on workers to organize and to bargain collectively. At the Federal level we need to regularize the thousands of temporary foreign workers and provide status to those who are undocumented. We must ensure that workers are not indentured in their workplace, not at the mercy of their employers, and not facing the ever present threat of deportation for demanding safe and decent working conditions.
The 10,000 person rally on April 9th showed that the people of Toronto are calling on City Hall and Mayor Rob Ford to show respect for all – not just a select few.
The next event to watch for is on Thursday, April 26th, when the City’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee will decide on the Mayor’s proposal to privatize all recycling and garbage collection west of Yonge Street. The majority of the committee are expected to go along with his plan, even though the numbers don’t make sense. The cost of collection in Toronto averages $79 per ton, lower than the Ontario average of $103 and far less than private collection in other GTA municipalities. Continue reading
Does the ‘ethnic vote’ exist? If
it does, will it have any
political clout in the 2 March
Nick Economou examines the
complexities of the ethnic
lobby and its potential.
Read the article http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au/doc/economou_1.pdf
Workers of Colour Assembly/Educational
March 25 & 26, 2011
OFL Building, 15 Gervais Drive, Auditorium, Toronto
This will be the first ever OFL Workers of Colour Assembly/Educational organized by the OFL Workers of Colour Committee co-sponsored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Latin American Trade Unionists Coalition and Asian Canadian Labour Alliance.
For more info, please visit http://ofl.ca/index.php/html/index_in/workers_of_colour_assembly_march_25_26_2011_register_now