Farmworkers relegated to second-class status: study



    Proposed changes would end exploitation of immigrant and migrant
    farmworkers

    VANCOUVER, June 18 /CNW/ - A new study of farm work in BC reveals
systematic violations of employment standards and health and safety
regulations, poor and often dangerous working conditions, and dismal
enforcement by government agencies. The study's authors propose comprehensive
policy changes that would ensure farmworkers - most of whom are immigrants and
temporary migrants - are no longer relegated to second-class status.
    "Farmworkers are at the mercy of a complex and confusing system that
exploits, threatens and silences them while putting their lives in danger,"
says study co-author Arlene McLaren, Professor Emerita of Sociology at Simon
Fraser University.

    
    Among the key findings:

    -   Farmworkers are routinely exposed to pesticides, gases used for
        ripening in greenhouses, and other chemicals without appropriate
        protective gear or training.

    -   Immigrant farmworkers are regularly transported by farm labour
        contractors in vans that violate safety regulations. Participants
        worried about their safety, but depend on contractors' vans to get to
        and from work. They did not report vehicle or other safety violations
        for fear of losing their jobs.

    -   Health and safety standards are routinely violated. For example,
        nearly 1 in 4 survey respondents rarely or never had access to a
        washroom on the worksite, and one in three rarely or never had access
        to any water for hand washing.

    -   The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), a federal-provincial
        program BC joined in 2004, brings a growing number of primarily
        Mexican migrant workers to Canada under conditions that amount to
        indentured servitude.
    

    NOTE: PARTIAL NEWS RELEASE ONLY. COMPLETE RELEASE AT:
http://www.policyalternatives.ca/News/2008/06/farmworkers





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For further information: Terra Poirier, (604) 801-5121 x229

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Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC)

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