"Mexican President Peña Nieto is well aware of what happened here, despite the denials of his bureaucrats and consular officials. The time for pretending is over. Now it is time to respect the laws of Canada." — Paul Meinema, National President, UFCW Canada
Vancouver (27 Mar. 2014) — United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Canada, the leading union om migrant workers' issues, is reporting major problems with how Mexican officials treat certain migrant workers. In a news release, UFCW says that the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) has ruled that Mexican government and consular officials blacklisted Mexican seasonal migrant workers from returning to Canada who were suspected of being union sympathizers.
Mexico blacklists pro-union workers, then tries to cover it up
The Labour Relations Board also found that Mexico had altered documents in an attempt to cover up its union-busting activities. The evidence had been presented to the B.C. Labour Relations Board in 2012, by UFCW Canada Local 1518, the union representing migrant workers at Sidhu & Sons Nursery Limited in the B.C. Lower Mainland.
The ruling by the BCLRB comes after three years of legal wrangling by Mexico to stall and quash the charges against it. "It has been a long battle, but finally the truth has won out," said Ivan Limpright, the President of UFCW Canada Local 1518, following the ruling on March 24. "Every worker in Canada has the right to join a union, including migrant workers. Mexico's blacklisting and coercion violated Canadian laws and the rights of the workers involved."
Migrant workers have the right to join unions in Canada
The blacklisting charges had originally been brought to the Board in 2011. Hearings and testimony commenced in January 2012. The hearings were temporarily suspended after Mexico petitioned to the B.C. Supreme Court, on the grounds of sovereign immunity, to force the labour board to quash the evidence it had received. This evidence included leaked Mexico government documents and testimony from former consular officials that corroborated the blacklisting activity. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled against Mexico's petition, and upheld the BCLRB's right to finally rule on the blacklisting evidence.
"Mexico reached across our borders to blacklist and break the human and labour rights of workers in our country," says Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. "Mexican President Peña Nieto is well aware of what happened here, despite the denials of his bureaucrats and consular officials. The time for pretending is over. Now it is time to respect the laws of Canada."
For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has led a campaign for the labour and human rights of domestic and agriculturale workers in Canada. In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates 10 agricultural worker support centres across the country, including three AWA centres in British Columbia.
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