|February 26, 2010|
February Focus on Discrimination & Human Rights
WHO PICKED THAT APPLE?
In 1966 the Canadian government created a program called SAWP, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program to address the labour shortage in agriculture. Since then, workers from around the world have been working on Canadian farms from planting, harvesting and processing food crops which end up in our markets and on our family tables. In many cases the rights of migrant workers are not taken care of, they work long hours in poor conditions. Basic human rights are being broken – within Canada.
The SAWP program employs migrant workers from Jamaica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guatemala and the Eastern Caribbean States, who work within agriculture in Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Ontario. An estimated 90% of the migrant workers end up in Ontario.
Workers are hired on to farms and their work includes the processing of fruit and vegetables, canning vegetables and fruit, working in greenhouses and picking vegetables and fruit – including apples and harvesting flowers.
Approximately 18,000 migrant farm workers from the Caribbean and Mexico arrive in Canada to work in our fields, orchards and greenhouses every year.
A well known ketchup factory in Leamington, southern Ontario is where migrant Mexican harvesters pick the tomato crop that ends up on our kitchen table as ketchup. The migrant workers typically earn $7.25 an hour, working ten hours a day, seven days a week, with no overtime and no holidays. Workers are not given fair or equitable working conditions.
MIGRANT WORKER ISSUES
- Working 12-15 hours without overtime or holiday pay
- Denied necessary breaks
- Pay discrimination between migrant and non-migrant workforce
- Use of dangerous chemicals, pesticides with no safety equipment or training
- Being crammed into inadequate housing
- Racism from townspeople communities where farms are located
- Exclusion from basic human rights legislation such as Health and Safety Legislation and most aspects of the Employment Standards Act
1. Pray that migrant workers would have a fair wage, with safe working conditions.
2. Pray against racism or discrimination.
3. Pray for the families of migrant workers in their home countries, that they would have access to education and be free from poverty.
When you are grocery shopping this week, go to the fruit and vegetable section, or to where the ketchup is, and think about those who harvested the crops that reach our tables.
Justice for Migrant Workers
Book: “Tortillas and Tomatoes, Transmigrant Mexican Harvesters in Canada” by Tanya Basok
See February’s full justice post with all the details here
Drop by next Friday for another post with actions you can take & prayer suggestionsTweet