Today is International Migrants Day and an important day to recognize the struggle of our sisters and brothers who are forced to leave their homes and families in search of work. Migrant workers are the invisible workers in our society: they pick our food, care for our children and elderly, clean our homes and offices, often in isolation and many times at night.

We are reminded of all the temporary foreign workers in Canada who have been, and continue to be, treated very badly and who experience a great deal of discrimination, harassment and exploitation. Some have experienced government raids and deportation over the past year, many have been subjected to threats and intimidation at the hands of recruiters, border agents and employers. It is the migrant women workers who are most vulnerable. 

In times of austerity, workers are used by employers to divide the workplace and to pit better paid unionized workers against other workers. Today, it is migrant workers who are forced to accept less pay because they do not have permanent residence status, and are very vulnerable to being scapegoated by employers who want to pay workers less and want to get rid of unions.

“We continue to deny migrant workers their place as equal members of our society,” says Chris Ramsaroop, organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW). “Migrant workers endure perilous and precarious conditions similar to the Chinese railroad workers who helped to build this country. Without changes we are destined to repeat the errors of history.”

“We stand in solidarity with workers who come to Canada from all over the world in search of a better life for their children and we support all efforts to ensure these workers are given permanent resident status upon arrival,” says Mark Hancock, national president of CUPE.  “We also support trade unions and workers’ organizations around the world in their struggle to organize workers, to demand jobs that pay a living wage, and to defend the public sector and the environment because we know it is poverty, unemployment and displacement that force many workers come to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.”

CUPE is committed to working with allies in building a better world, where workers are not forced to leave their homes, separated from their children and families in search of work.

Please sign the petition to support migrant workers. The Coalition for Migrant Worker Rights Canada is calling on the federal government to untie work permits so that workers can leave exploitive employers without facing deportation.