Abbotsford greenhouse operator prevents seasonal employees from participating in legal vote
Abbotsford, B.C. (19 Sep. 2008) - A group of 14 migrant farm workers at Floralia Plant Growers in Abbotsford have been fired from their jobs and flown home to Mexico after filing papers to join a union.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) said the abrupt action occurred the day after the owners discovered an application to certify the UFCW as bargaining agent for its workers was filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB).
Union organizer Lucy Luna says the application was filed on Sep. 4 and the workers learned Sep. 5 that they were leaving on a flight at 1 p.m. the next day. Their contract was to have lasted until October.
The board is investigating whether the company violated B.C. labour law by getting rid of the workers before a legal certification vote this week. Board hearings are scheduled.
Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, says seasonal employees in B.C.'s agricultural industry deserve more rights. "People live in fear out there that their employer will find out that they are going to stand up for their rights," he adds. The company has not commented on the situation.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has signed a formal protocol with the UFCW Canada to support the union in its ongoing drive to organize long-exploited migrant farm workers in Canada. NUPGE