Our submission to the Fair Wages Commission

On November 23, BC Employment Standards Coalition Co-Chair David Fairey made a submission in Vancouver to the Fair Wages Commission as part of its consultation. The submission contains detailed responses to questions from the Commission including, “What is a reasonable timeframe or schedule of increases in the minimum wage to reach $15-an-hour?” and “What are your experiences or thoughts about the farm workers piece rates in B.C.?”

Please click here to read our full submission.

New documentary “Migrant Dreams” at DOXA Film Festival May 7th

Migrant workers, activists with Justicia for Migrant Workers and the filmmakers celebrating the sold-out premiere of Migrant Dreams in Toronto on May 1st, 2016.

Migrant workers, activists with Justicia for Migrant Workers and the filmmakers celebrating the sold-out premiere of Migrant Dreams in Toronto on May 1st, 2016.

Award-winning filmmaker Min Sook Lee’s new 90-minute film Migrant Dreams will be screening this week in Vancouver. This documentary explores the stories of migrant workers from Mexico, Jamaica, and Southeast Asia employed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in the greenhouses of Leamington, Ontario.

Migrant Dreams depicts how, for many farm workers, the dream of a well-paying job becomes a nightmare when they are deceived into paying outrageous fees to brokers and recruiters, and how their employers impose curfews, confiscate passports, and charge exorbitant rental fees for cockroach-infested apartments. This investigative exposé documents the struggle of a group of women from Indonesia who, with the help of Evelyn and Cathy, two tireless community activists, take a stand and confront their employer. Thus, it not only focuses on structural conditions of exploitation for migrant workers, but also their stories of strength, resilience and love.

The film will be shown on Saturday, May 7th, at Cinematheque in Vancouver, starting at 2:00 PM. Ticket information: http://www.doxafestival.ca/film/migrant

Interview with Min Sook Lee and Evelyn Encalada on CBC’s The Current: http://bit.ly/1T6S4F7

New article: Policy tools needed to improve livelihoods for farmers and farm workers in BC

While the BC Jobs Plan has focused on increasing the number of jobs in the province, many have raised concerns about quality of those jobs. For instance, how effectively does the province’s job-creation plan promote job security, enforced occupational health and safety protections, remuneration that is fair and liveable, and opportunities for workers to participate in workplace decisions that affect their lives? In particular, how does the BC Jobs Plan affect workers who are already at a high risk of poverty and precarious work, including racialized newcomers, migrant workers, and Indigenous peoples in BC?

In response to these concerns, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives hosted a conference in November to gather ideas for creative policy tools to create good jobs in BC. As part of the conference, BC Employment Standards Coalition member Anelyse Weiler, along with UBC researchers Dennis J. and Hannah Wittman, contributed a paper focused on farmers, farm workers and food security in British Columbia. Growing Good Agricultural Jobs in British Columbia considers the tensions within the current political-economic context between advancing dignified livelihoods for farm employers and hired workers. However, the authors argue that this tension is not inevitable, and that key policy changes can help to advance livelihood self-determination and better job quality for both farmers and farm workers.

Recently, the Vancouver Sun published an op-ed highlighting some of the ideas proposed in the longer paper by Weiler, Dennis and Wittman: In growing good jobs for B.C.’s economy, we’ve been neglecting a key ingredient.