When: Sunday 20th July at 3:00 pm
Where: Main entrance of the Oratoire Saint-Joseph, 3800, Queen Mary Road (metro Côte-des-Neiges), Montréal (Québec).
Who: Noé Arteaga, ex-temporary foreign worker and member of the Immigrant Workers Centre of Montreal.
This Sunday 20th July, Noe Arteaga will hold a press conference about Bill 8 which makes certain amendments to the Labour Code of Quebec (Chapter C-27). Organizations that defend human rights, labour rights, and immigrant and migrant workers should be deeply worried about these modifications because they exclude from legislation the ability of agricultural temporary foreign workers to unionize and to defend their rights in front of employers. “It is about a gradual increase of the private sphere of labour relationships, then giving more power to agricultural employers and adding more vulnerability to workers,” says Arteaga. These amendments are specifically applicable to workers of “farming business” that ordinary and continuously employ fewer than three workers. This Bill was presented in the context of the upheaval of the end of the parliamentary session of the last government, and it is not receiving enough attention from media, public opinion, unions, employers, employees, and the government. The modifications this Bill proposes infringe on the rights of agricultural workers whose great portion includes temporary foreign workers.
According to the proposed modifications by Bill 8, the dispositions of sections 2 and 3 of the Chapter II, and also, the Chapters III to V of the Labour Code will note be applicable to workers of farming business with fewer than three employees (Section 111.27). In that way, this measure excludes these workers from the legislation that regulates the unionizing and organizing processes of agricultural workers. The organizing and unionizing is an elemental and basic right of any worker, as much as the setting of collective agreements that legally ensure the respect of employers to basic rights of workers. As well, the proposed section 111.28 says the employer must give an association of employees of the farming business a reasonable opportunity to make representations about the conditions of employment of its members. Besides the ambiguity of terms as “reasonable opportunity”, in practice this section means workers shall not have the option to dialogue and negotiate with their employers about issues of wages, social security, neither they have right to strike. This will happen because the representation of workers will be excluded from the legislation that certifies their association. In this way their rights to exert political and collective pressure in front of the abuses of employers, and in front of the system that exploits them, are taken out of legislation.
The Temporary Foreign Workers Programs have been questioned since a long time ago because the systematic infringement of human and labour rights that migrant workers suffer. This situation takes place due to the combination of factors derived from their migrant status and location, and the labour de-regulation. This problem tends to increase labour precariousness, also spreading among the same Canadian citizens.