Cattle are trucked more safely than farm workers

UFCW Canada accuses B.C. government of 'shameful' behaviour for ignoring coroner's recommendations.

Surrey, B.C. (12 Oct. 2010) - Cattle are trucked more safely in Canada than humans, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) says in the wake of yet another accident involving farm workers.

Five agriculture workers were injured near Surrey on Oct. 5 after a pick-up truck crashed into a flatbed wagon being towed behind a tractor.

Employed by Greenway Farms in Surrey, the workers were riding in a wagon – perched on a stack of produce boxes. The driver of the pick-up truck was arrested. So far no charges have been laid against the employer for transporting workers unsafely.

In 2007, three farm workers near Abbotsford were killed and 14 others injured when a 10-person van jammed with the 17 workers flipped and crashed. A coroner’s inquest made recommendations to regulate the transportation of farm workers, including strict inspection standards monitored by a third party.

The B.C. government has rejected the safety proposal and the sight of farm workers being transported in unsafe, substandard vehicles remains too common an occurrence in B.C.

“It’s shameful that the B.C. government continues to turn a blind eye to the coroner’s recommendations,” says Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada.

The UFCW has been working in cooperation with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) to operate farm worker support centres in Abbotsford, Kelowna and Surrey, B.C. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has worked for many years with UFCW Canada to improve the lot of agricultural workers in Canada.

“The way the system is working now, cattle are trucked more safely than agriculture workers," says Hanley.

"How many more workers have to be killed or injured before the authorities in British Columbia and Alberta and Ontario stop treating agriculture workers like disposable commodities, and start ensuring that the health and safety of the workers who put food on our tables is properly protected?”

UFCW Canada, the country's largest private-sector union, represents migrant and domestic agriculture workers at a number of locations in British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec.

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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