On the occasion of International Migrants Day, on December 15th, a study day was organized around the theme: the expansion of programs for temporary workers within the context of neo-liberal globalization: the hazards and the perceptions.
This event was prepared by the Front de défense des non-syndiquéEs organization that defends the rights of non-unionized workers), with the collaboration of the Centre justice et foi, (centre for justice and faith), of CATHII (committee for action against human trafficking, of CISO (the international solidarity centre for female workers), of the Centre des travailleuses et travailleurs immigrants (centre for migrant workers), of the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain-CSN (Union representing 6 Unions: plumbers, carpenters, shoe factory workers, etc.), and REDTAC-(im)migration (interuniversity and intercommunity network concerned with protection of the rights of migrant workers).
Some of the members of the Groupe Solidarité who participated in it were: Phyllis Douillard, Dorothy Guha, Constance Létourneau, Aline Ratelle and Claudette Bastien.
We heard that Canada, as well as Quebec, is increasingly dependent upon temporary migration for work in answer to certain labour-related needs.
Within this framework, "temporary foreign workers" are allowed into a region upon the request of the employers. More precisely, bound by a contract to a single employer, they depend on him and must leave when the contract ends.
These programs for temporary recruitment have met with undeniable success. Seasonal agricultural workers, domestic helpers, construction workers or even hotel business workers are sectors that are implicated, to name but a few.
However, even though foreign temporary workers are not all exposed to the same conditions to which they are vulnerable, this system too often operates by depriving these migrants of a real social existence, leading the most fragile among them to be almost invisible in our society.
In addition, almost all are subjected to the violation of their rights at many levels: as individuals, as women in particular, as migrants and as workers!
Numerous injustices are perpetrated against these migrants: illegal deductions at the time of recruitment and travel, unpaid wages, unhealthy accommodations, restrictions on leaving the confines of their work area, overtime work without remuneration, lack of holidays or even being excluded from future recruitment programs for having chosen to be unionized or for demanding justice…
At the end of the day, enlightened by the resource people and from the discussions with the participants... we set out again with the following questions:
• What gives us the right today to make use of a restricted foreign workforce with extremely reduced job security?
• How is it acceptable to us today that people can be simply reduced to their effectiveness for work while being deprived of their rights to have a social existence because of a refusal to pay the "costs"? It is a matter of becoming more aware of a reality about which we know very little...