BC Labour Board hearing begins into unfair labour practice charges that Sidhu & Sons Nursery conspired with Mexican Consulate against Mexican migrant farm workers who formed union
Vancouver, BC - February 21, 2012 - Hearings into charges of unfair labour practices, including the blacklisting of Mexican migrant workers through the collusion of the Mexican Consulate in Vancouver, began Monday at the BC Labour Relations Board (BCLRB). The charges were filed by UFCW Canada Local 1518 — the union the workers joined.
While the LRB ruled recently that Mexico is entitled to state immunity and therefore not subject to the BCLRB’s jurisdiction, the Board’s ruling recognized that the actions of Mexico are relevant and important to the union’s allegation of improper interference. The union has appealed the BCLRB decision that recognized state immunity for Mexico, arguing there is a strong legal foundation for its argument that Mexico deserves to be held accountable under BC labour law for its actions.
Video testimony by blacklisted workers in Mexico is expected to form a significant part of the evidence presented by the union to support its charges.
The union-busting charges were filed by UFCW Canada Local 1518, which represents migrant agricultural workers at Sidhu and Sons Nursery Limited, and at Floralia Plant Growers Limited in the Lower Mainland. (see www.ufcw.ca/stoptheblacklist). The charges against Floralia are scheduled to be heard at a later date by the LRB.
Collective bargaining agreements with Local 1518 are in place at both locations, after a majority of workers at Sidhu and Floralia voted to unionize. The migrant workers come to Canada each season under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP) — a bilateral agreement administered by the federal government to which Mexico is a signatory."While we are pleased to see the charges against this employer finally proceed to a hearing, we intend to continue the legal fight to see Mexico held accountable for its role in blacklisting these workers,” says Ivan
Limpright, President of UFCW 1518. “It is especially dangerous to our basic freedoms when a government inappropriately intervenes to deny workers their basic rights, and that includes our labour laws, and the right of all workers, including migrant workers, to join a union."
“In Canada you play by Canadian rules, including our labour laws which apply to all workers including migrant workers," says Wayne Hanley, the National President of UFCW Canada. "Migrant agriculture workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in Canada, and we will continue the fight to see their fundamental human and labour rights are recognized and honoured,” he says.
The hearings in the Sidhu case are scheduled to last ten days.