NUPGE and UFCW sign agricultural workers protocol
Fighting for migrant
Ottawa - The
National Union of Public and General Employees has signed a formal
protocol with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada
to organize long-exploited migrant farm workers in Canada.
The UFCW-NUPGE protocol joins together two of the biggest unions
in Canada in a unique public sector/private sector agreement in
the fight for full rights on behalf of these workers.
and Michael Fraser
The National Union
of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is a family of 15 component
unions with more than 337,000 members delivering provincial public
services of every kind to citizens across Canada. A growing number of
NUPGE members also work for private businesses.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) is one of
Canada's largest and most respected private sector unions with more
than 230,000 members across the country, working in every aspect of
the food industry, as well as other service, commercial, processing,
manufacturing, technical and professional occupations. Over the past
decade UFCW Canada has also led the movement to bring justice to
agricultural workers in Canada.
"We recognize that agricultural workers are one of the most
disadvantaged groups of workers in Canada," says NUPGE national
president James Clancy, "including the thousands of migrant farm
workers who come here each season."
hours a day, minimum wage
An estimated 18,000 agricultural workers migrate north each year,
mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean, to work on Canadian farms for
periods of four to nine months.
They enter the country through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers
Program (SAW) signed by Canada and their home country. But they are
not protected by health and safety regulations, overtime and holiday
legislation or basic freedom of association or collective bargaining
At peak season migrant workers spend up to 11 hours a day, six days a
week, and often half a day on Sunday, in the fields and orchards of
Canada, toiling for minimum wage.
Successive attempts to win basic rights for these employees have been
consistently thwarted, especially in recent years by Conservative
governments in Ontario.
"There is no moral, economic, or legal justification for excluding any
group of workers from basic health, safety and employment insurance
coverage, and the right to bargain collectively" says Michael J.
Fraser, national director of UFCW Canada.
"Agricultural workers deserve the same rights as other workers. So we
welcome NUPGE's solidarity in the battle for justice for Canada's farm
NUPGE national president James Clancy says his union "recognizes that
UFCW Canada is the union that has led the struggle over the last
decade to achieve justice and fairness for migrant workers, and all
workers in the agribusiness industry across the country."
"The National Union commends UFCW Canada for its strong advocacy and
representation on behalf of agricultural workers right across Canada.
We are proud to join them in a new protocol to protect, promote and
extend the rights of Canada's farm workers."
Protocol and Boycott
The protocol joins the resources of the two unions together in the
Both parties recognize UFCW Canada as the
union with the primary jurisdiction for organizing workers employed in
farming and related agricultural processing industries.
When requested by UFCW Canada, the
National Union and its Components will help establish and encourage
its members to participate in community support and advocacy groups in
those communities where UFCW Canada is actively organizing
The National Union will support UFCW
Canada's continuing efforts to achieve representation rights and other
worker rights for agricultural workers and will promote a greater
awareness amongst its members of the legal struggles faced by
agricultural workers in Canada.
UFCW Canada will provide the National
Union with background material on the union's various struggles and
campaigns in support of agricultural workers that the National Union
can use to promote greater awareness and education of its members.
The National Union will support and promote UFCW
Canada's national boycott of Rol-Land Farms Inc.'s products - mushrooms sold
under the name of Essex Kent Mushroom, Essex Continental Distributors Inc.
and/or Unionville Farms.
The protocol is signed by James Clancy on behalf of the National Union and
Michael Fraser, national director of the UFCW Canada
Rol-Land Farms Inc.
information or interviews, please call:
Michael Fraser, UFCW Canada
(416) 675-1104, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Luff, NUPGE (613)
NUPGE-UFCW Canada Protocol Documents (Migrant Agricultural Workers)
Web posted by NUPGE:
17 February 2004