During the LRB hearings, UFCW Canada argued that Mexico and its consulate in Vancouver colluded with the operators of a B.C. agriculture operation to bust the union at Sidhu & Sons Nursery where the workers voted to unionize.
Vancouver (30 March 2012) – The Supreme Court of British Columbia began deliberations earlier this week whether to prevent the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) from ruling that Mexico prevented union supporters from returning to Canada under the federal government's Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP).
At an LRB hearing, which concluded earlier this month, three former employees of the Mexico consulate in Vancouver gave testimony that indicated blacklisting and union busting activities by the consulate and Mexico government. Their testimony included that they were instructed to report to senior Mexican officials about Mexican migrant workers in B.C. they suspected of being union sympathizers. The former consular employees also testified they were instructed to tell workers not to contact or visit three Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) support centres in British Columbia operated in association with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) – Canada.
On Wednesday, the court heard arguments that the labour board's decision to hear the blacklisting evidence earlier this month during 13 days of hearings contradicted Mexico's claim of sovereign immunity.
During the LRB hearings, UFCW Canada Local 1518 argued that Mexico and its consulate in Vancouver colluded with the operators of a B.C. agriculture operation to bust the union at Sidhu & Sons Nursery where the workers voted to unionize, and where a union contract is now in place. Evidence included a leaked document from the Mexican government which showed that a worker was blocked from the SAWP after the Vancouver consulate placed a call to Mexico advising that the worker was involved in union activity.
The outcome of the LRB hearings is now on hold, pending the decision of the B.C. Supreme Court. The court’s decision could also impact another case yet to be heard, where UFCW Canada Local 1518 alleges that Mexico and its Vancouver consulate also colluded with another B.C. agriculture operation, Floralia Growers, to blacklist Mexican migrant workers suspected of being union sympathizers. A union contract is also in place at Floralia, where a majority of the workers voted to unionize in 2008.
For more than two decades, UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for the labour and workplace rights of both domestic and migrant agriculture workers. In association with Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates 10 agriculture workers support centres across Canada.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE