October 30, 2014
By Stephanie West
Toronto, Ontario – UFCW Canada expresses shock and dismay with Quebec's Liberal government for ramming through legislation that has the potential to strip many agriculture workers of their basic human rights. The government has passed into law Bill 8, which will effectively deny workers in small agriculture operations the right to unionize and bargain collectively.
Last month, UFCW Canada presented a brief to the Quebec National Assembly, outlining the detrimental impact Bill 8 would have on workers in the agriculture sector. Bill 8 directly discriminates against agriculture workers. The Quebec Human Rights Commission issued a warning that Bill 8 could be considered unconstitutional and in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Last year, the Superior Court issued the decision in favor of UFCW Canada's five-year battle to defend the right of agriculture workers in Quebec to bargain collectively. With complete disregard for the Court's decision, the Liberal government has rushed through Bill 8 without further public consultation.
By denying the right to unionize on farms and greenhouses with less than three full-time employees, no matter how many seasonal agriculture workers are employed, the government is effectively giving employers a method to manipulate the workforce in order to avoid collective bargaining.
"This is a slap in the face to the least privileged members of our society," says Paul Meinema, UFCW Canada National President. "Bill 8 completely ignores the fact that without the power of union representation and collective bargaining, working conditions in the agriculture sector will only get worse, not better. As Canada's union for agriculture workers, we will do everything in our power to fight against this draconian piece of legislation and redouble our efforts to support and empower agriculture workers in Quebec and across Canada."
*** UFCW Canada represents more than a quarter-million members including thousands of agriculture workers.