Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CAW Champions Human Rights Case of Temporary Foreign Workers

(Windsor) The CAW is continuing its nearly four year-long case against former Wheatley fish plant owner Joe Pratas, of Presteve Foods today in court.  Pratas is standing trial for nine counts of sexual assault and abuse in a human rights tribunal in Windsor, starting today at 10 a.m.

The hearing will take place at 400 City Hall Square East, Room 409 in Windsor.

In 2008, Pratas was alleged to have subjected a number of workers to sexual assault and harassment while they were employed at Presteve Foods. The workers were also being paid significantly less than their Canadian counterparts.

Many of the workers had been housed at a bunk house, attached to the facility and their work permits were tied to their jobs at the plant. Many feared deportation or worsening abuse if they complained or brought in the authorities. 

The union intervened on their behalf after successfully unionizing the migrant workers. The Canadian workforce at Presteve was already members of CAW Local 444.

The situation at Presteve points to fatal flaws in the temporary foreign worker program, said CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte. “These women were vulnerable exactly because of the circumstances of the program,” said Laporte.

“Their work permits were tied to their source of employment and if they left this abusive employer, they would be threatened with deportation. The Canadian government is repeatedly turning a blind eye to companies who exploit migrant workers and put them in unsafe working conditions, with few, if any protections. We know from recent examples that this can have tragic consequences,” said Laporte.

Justicia for Migrant Workers will be intervening in the caseas will CAW Local 444.

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