One protester writes the Migrant Rights Network’s hashtag, #UNITEAGAINSTRACISM, with chalk on the Dayton Street bridge. (David Venn - Kelowna Capital News)

RAMA and Migrants Rights Network supporters protest for enhanced labour rights amongst migrant workers

‘I benefit from people who come and do the work that we can’t find other Canadians to do’

If you were on your way to or from the Father’s Day Charity Car Show in downtown Kelowna, there’s a good chance you would have noticed the two dozen migrant workers’ rights supporters lined along the white railings of the pedestrian overpass on Harvey Avenue.

Ralliers gathered on June 16, in association with Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture Okanagan (RAMA) and the Migrant Rights Network to bring migrant labour rights and racism to the forefront of the federal election.

“We really want to put the issue forward of racism against migrant workers and the politicization of fear-mongering,” said Luis Diaz, a five-year RAMA Okanagan collective member.

“We want our community to be more inclusive and welcoming of these members of our community,” he said.

The supporters ranged from children to recent graduates and B.C. union members; all of which were protesting for more thorough and cohesive workers’ rights.

“I believe that, as Canadians and people in Kelowna, I benefit from people who come and do the work that we can’t find other Canadians to do,” said Debbie Hubbard, Amnesty International volunteer. “And so this is my way of saying thanks and that I support them.”

“We are here to support RAMA that organized this protest against racism that’s been directed at migrant agricultural workers,” said Paul Finch, B.C. Government and Service Employees Union treasurer. “We feel very strongly that these workers should be supported.”

READ MORE: OC and UBC Okanagan research how to better support migrant workers

“A core part of our mission isn’t simply fighting for wages and benefits for our members but also politically supporting working people across the province.”

Lucie Bardos, another protester, studied Latin American studies in her bachelor’s degree, where she learnt more about the challenges migrant workers encounter.

“It was pretty mind-blowing to find out how little access they have to things like health care, legal assistance [and] community services in general,” said Bardos.

In 2017, the Canadian Council for Refugees rated B.C.’s labour rights for migrant workers a D overall, concluding, “there is no legislation designed to protect migrant workers’ rights.”

READ MORE: Minister urged to press Jamaica over wage deductions of migrant workers

In some cases, migrant workers were excluded from receiving minimum wage and overtime pay.

But in 2018, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia enabled Bill 48-2018, which included stipulations for B.C. employers to adhere to such as enforcing the minimum wage.

But the Migrant Rights Network and its affiliates believe the government could and should do more.

Their demands are permanent resident status and family unity in Canada, as well as landed status on arrival, full labour rights and $15 per hour minimum wage (current legislature states migrant workers must be paid at least $13.85 per hour); no discrimination towards any minority group and enforcement on practices and policies that will not add to climate change and other various catalysts that could cause displacement.

In 2017, the federal government issued almost 80,000 work permits to members of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Over half those permits were designated for agricultural workers, according to a 2018 report by the Council for Refugees; another of their reports said almost 17,000 of the permits issued were for B.C.

Diaz said the number of temporary foreign workers in the Okanagan is close to 3,000.


@davidvenn_
David.venn@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

One protester writes the Migrant Rights Network’s hashtag, #UNITEAGAINSTRACISM, with chalk on the Dayton Street bridge. (David Venn - Kelowna Capital News)

Just Posted

Keremeos man says stem cell therapy changed his life

Darryl Brewer says he went from being immobile with chronic pain to leading an active lifestyle

Penticton resident’s dog allegedly stolen from construction site

Nicholas Bozak is seeking the public’s assistance in locating Askem, his 17 month old mastiff chow

Experience the music at the 97 South Song Sessions in Penticton

Songwriters Tim Nichols, Jimmy Yeary, Jessica Mitchell and Bob DiPiero to perform intimate concert

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: cloudy, showers expected

Environment Canada is predicting a mix of sun and clouds tomorrow and a sunny weekend across the Okanagan

Okanagan society sends seniors, shut-ins on boat excursions

Okanagan Quality Life Society has been providing Okanagan Lake boat rides for nearly 30 years

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

Arrest made in vandalism of the former home of man charged with South Okanagan murders

RCMP confirmed one person has been arrested in relation to the alleged vandalism

Respected wildlife artist in the Okanagan dies

According to a post by his family, Terry Isaac died on July 16

Two Okanagan robbers have been court charged

Paul Davis Houle and Tyler Brice Rathbone face break and enter charges

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

Most Read