Scrap Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Steelworkers

VANCOUVER, April 18, 2013 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers (USW) members from across Canada are calling for an end to the Harper government's scandal-plagued Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

More than 650 delegates to the USW's National Policy Conference in Vancouver passed a resolution Thursday calling for Harper's FTWP to be scrapped in favour of a system that does not exploit foreign workers and that promotes skills training and job creation.

Chaka Rukobo, a Steelworkers member from Yellowknife, NWT, who immigrated to Canada 12 years ago, said he is appalled by the extent of the abuse of the FTWP under the Harper government.

"We all like to have our double-double in the morning. But do we want to get that double-double from someone who has been brought into this country to be exploited?" Rukobo asked during debate on the resolution.

"I see the Temporary Foreign Worker Program for what it is - it's a race to the bottom. We have a duty to challenge this kind of thing."

"The Harper government has been abusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program as part of its low-wage economic strategy for our country," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

"We are adamantly opposed to a policy that seeks to undermine our Canadian standard of living while continuing to exploit new arrivals to our shores," Neumann said.

The Steelworkers' resolution endorsed a national campaign that will work to:

- "Scrap the federal TFWP and replace it with measures that ensure that if temporary foreign workers are employed in Canada, they be provided full rights of employment, with aggressive enforcement" of labour laws.

- "Make training available to Canadians including First Nations and others who face higher levels of unemployment to prepare them for the jobs of the future."

- "Promote, where necessary, full immigration to fill shortages of skilled workers."

In keynote address to the USW policy conference Thursday, Federal New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair slammed the Harper Conservatives' mismanagement of the temporary foreign workers program, saying a complete overhaul is needed.

The Steelworkers' position also was endorsed by special guests to the USW conference, representing First Nations and Chinese Canadian communities.

The USW has launched legal proceedings in Federal Court to challenge the Harper government's approval for temporary foreign workers to replace existing employees at RBC.

The USW also played a leading role in exposing the Conservative government's approval for hiring temporary foreign workers for mining jobs in British Columbia even though hundreds of Canadian applicants were not even granted interviews.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

or to arrange interviews, contact:

Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca
Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications (647) 522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca