Mexico City – April 9, 2016 – The expansion of Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) programs in Canada has created an enormous black market for unscrupulous agencies that are allowed to operate in Mexico and Central America. Job offer scams, illegal fees, property confiscation, and other abuses plague the recruitment system that exploits temporary foreign workers from Mexico and Central America regions seeking work in Canada.
UFCW Canada and regional allies united under the INILAB (Regional Labour Mobility Initiative)network are denouncing the lack of regulation and proper coordination between the regions’ authorities, and are asking for a regional exchange to address the current crisis.
In the last 15 years, the growth of TFW migrants to new sectors in Canada has created a privatized, unregulated market that exploits migrant workers’ vulnerabilities. Placement fees are illegal under current Canadian legislation but employers have not been made responsible for the actions taken by recruitment intermediaries. The migrant-paid share to unscrupulous recruiters can be up to a third of their expected earnings.
The lack of transparency in the recruitment process also allows phony agencies to charge for non-existent job offers. While stats are hard to come by, INILAB estimates that up to 9,000 people have been robbed by these agencies over the past five years. The Global Workers Justice Alliance, a long-standing UFCW Canada ally, has also denounced the confiscation of property titles in Guatemala by recruiters of temporary workers.
The private sector should not determine the shape and conditions of the labour force without proper regulation and enforcement. A regional dialogue on fraud prevention and institutional co-operation on recruitment is urgent.