To the BC Government & Minister of Labour Margaret McDiarmid:
Extend the Hourly Minimum Wage to Farm Workers who Hand Harvest Berries, Fruits & Vegetables
Under the Employment Standards Act regulation farm workers who harvest tree fruits, berries and certain vegetables (peas, beans and brussels sprouts) are not entitled to receive the minimum hourly wage that all other workers are entitled to. Instead, the minimum wage regulation sets the minimum rates of pay for the harvesting of these crops on the basis of either the volume or weight of crops picked.
On March 9, 2012 the Minister of Labour quietly announced that hand harvesters of fruits and vegetables would not receive the long over-due minimum wage increases all other BC workers received on November 1, 2011 and scheduled for May 1, 2012.
By further depressing minimum wages in agriculture through the freezing of hand harvester piece rates the BC government is subsidizing farm operators at the expense of low income immigrant and migrant farm workers. This is discriminatory and a gross injustice.
The most principled and equitable policy for the government to adopt on this issue is for the elimination of regulated minimum piece rates of pay for the hand harvesting of any and all agricultural products so that all farm workers are covered by the hourly minimum wage regulation.
We, the signed above, urge the BC Government to abolish the Employment Standards Regulation (Section 18) that excludes certain farm workers from the hourly minimum wage regulation (Section 15).