Alberta stats confirm frontline evidence of foreign worker abuse

TORONTO, ONT--The violation of the workplace rights of many Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in Alberta "reinforces what we've reported for years now," says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada. "Except for locations where those workers have a union, TFWs in Alberta and across Canada are regular targets for
exploitation and workplace abuse."

UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union, and represents thousands of TFWs under collective agreements. These agreements protect these TFWs against workplace violations, require health and safety information in the workers' language, and provide a legal pathway for these workers to permanent Canadian residency.

"So the story for UFCW Canada members who are Temporary Foreign Workers is positive. But outside the union, TFWs are treated by thousands of employers like disposable commodities, with no respect for their safety or other workplace rights. The latest stats from Alberta back that up."

The UFCW Canada president's remarks come in the wake of newly-released Alberta Ministry of Employment and Immigration inspection statistics that show that of the 407 Alberta TFW workplaces inspected this year, 74% of those employers had violated the Employment Standards Act regarding pay rates and record keeping.

The data was released by the Alberta NDP, which obtained the records under a Freedom of Information application. "We agree with the Alberta NDP and the Alberta Federation of Labour that the federal government's TFW program needs to be revised to fully respect the human and labour rights of these vulnerable workers. That should also include the right to build a permanent life in Canada for these workers and their families.

And that goes across this country - not just Alberta," said Hanley.

"Unless you're unionized, the treatment of Temporary Foreign Workers continues to be a national disgrace," says Naveen Mehta, Director of Human Rights, Equity & Diversity, UFCW Canada.

Mehta is also one of a 25 UFCW Canada delegates from across the country who are attending the 12th Annual Metropolis Conference on Immigration and Diversity being held March 18 - 21 in Montreal. UFCW Canada is presenting and participating as one of the country's leading advocates, in the community and on the front lines, for migrant workers in Canada.

Article Ant, Fri Mar 18 2010

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