Canadian advocacy group to take further action if issues affecting Jamaican farmworkers in Ontario are not resolved
A worker’s rights lobby group based in Canada has indicated that it’s prepared to take further action if there is no satisfactory resolution to issues faced by some Jamaican workers at a farm in Ontario.
The upset workers withdrew service last week, citing subpar conditions, including sewage water flooding their bunk house.
A plumber who was brought in to fix the problem, reportedly stated that the fix is temporary, and that it is possible the facility will be flooded again.
Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, MWAC, told Irie FM News that the lobby group has been in regular contact with the Jamaican workers at the farm since 2020.
MWAC said its representatives toured the facility last year, at the invitation of the Jamaican workers after they reported issues such as overcrowding, and unsanitary housing, including wastewater backing up into the kitchen area.
The group said in 2022, the workers contacted both the Jamaican Liaison Service and Service Canada to complain, but the issue was only temporarily resolved.
It said the liaison officer who responded said that the workers complaints were costing “too much money”.
MWAC said workers know that those in authority prioritize employer profit over worker safety, so this year, they decided to organize a strike, after their calls to the liaison service went unanswered.
It said without permanent resident status, migrant workers in Canada are threatened with being fired, evicted, deported, and blacklisted from the farm work program if they speak up for their rights.
It said last week’s strike was their last resort.
MWAC said currently these workers are waiting to see if the issue will be resolved and are providing the lobby group with regular updates.
It noted that a plumber fixed the problem but said it will happen again.
It said if the unsanitary conditions are not resolved to the workers’ satisfaction, MWAC members are prepared to take further action.
And, in an update, regarding the farm workers who wrote an open letter about their slavery like situation last year, MWAC said the workers are reporting improved housing conditions, including new bedding, renovations, new houses, and access to wi-fi.
The workers are also reporting improved treatment from employers at 2 other farms.
The lobby group said its closely monitoring the situation, to ensure improvements continue.
It noted however, that several other farm workers are not seeing the same improvements, as evidenced by the latest complaints from workers at the farm in Ontario.
It said these workers are becoming increasingly agitated over unsafe living and working conditions on the farms, as well as the lack of accountability from their home governments and the Canadian government.
MWAC said the problem is not about one bad boss, but about a system of exploitation and abuse, facilitated by Canada’s immigration system.
It said migrant farm workers across Canada are demanding safe and sanitary housing, decent work, higher wages, and fair treatment from employers, as well as permanent resident status, for all.