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Vulnerability of temporary foreign workers’ exists in Ontario

Posted in Canada, Talking Politics

Published on May 29, 2015 with No Comments

Two female migrant workers get $220K

Two female migrant workers have been awarded almost $220,000 after being discriminated against at a plant in Wheatley, according to a ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The women, from Mexico, were working under the Temporary Foreign Worker program at Presteve Foods Ltd., a fish processing plant. The complaint was against the plant’s previous owner Jose Pratas.

One woman received $164,000 and the other one got $55,000. They were the two remaining complainants out of 39 in a case that started eight years ago. It the highest damages award in the tribunal’s history for compensation to injury to dignity and self-respect‎.

The tribunal found that the women were exposed to sexual solicitation, sexual harassment, discrimination in employment.

“I want to tell all women that are in a similar situation, that they should not be silent and that there is justice and they should not just accept mistreatment or humiliation,” said one of the women in a statement. “We must not stay silent.”She highlighted that under the temporary foreign worker program, “the boss has all the power – over your money, house, status, everything.”

The union representing the women said that the ruling underscores the failings of both the provincial and federal government to protect temporary foreign workers.

“Handcuffing workers to employers creates vulnerability and without meaningful oversight, abuse is inevitable,”  Niki Lundquist, Unifor counsel to the applicants is reported to have said.

Unifor and the other interveners are calling for:permanent immigration status for migrant workers; ending closed work permits so that migrant workers are no longer indentured to a single employer,holding both employers and recruiters liable for violations against migrant workers.

 

 

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