An agency of the United Nations has ruled a ban on farm unions violates the human rights of Ontarioâ€™s 100,000 migrant and domestic farm workers â€¨â€¨GENEVA â€“ November 18, 2010 â€“ The UNâ€™s International Labour Organization (ILO) has ruled that Canada and Ontario, through Ontarioâ€™s ban on farm unions, violate the human rights of the more than 100,000 migrant and domestic agriculture workers in that province.
It follows a complaint filed in March 2009 by UFCW Canada â€” the countryâ€™s largest private-sector union and a leading advocate for farm workersâ€™ rights for over two decades. The ILO is the United Nations agency responsible for formulating international labour standards including basic labour rights.â€¨â€¨â€œThe ILO has sent a clear message to the Canadian and Ontario governments that Ontario must end its blatant abuse of the rights of the workers who grow and harvest our food,â€ says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. â€œThese are farm workers, not farm animals, and people have human rights including the right to collective bargaining.â€â€¨â€¨The ILO ruling was handed down in Geneva (http://www.ufcw.ca/ilo).
It found that Ontarioâ€™s Agricultural Employees Act, 2002 (AEPA) which denies all Ontario agriculture workers the right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining is a violation of human rights under two United Nationâ€™s conventions: Convention No. 87 â€“ Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention No. 98 â€“ Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining. â€¨â€¨Canada is a signatory to Convention 87 and supported Convention 98, â€œso you would expect a federal government that bid to get on the UN Security Council would have the integrity to follow up on the UN conventions,â€ said the UFCW Canada president. â€œThe feds can say itâ€™s a provincial matter but the reality is that both the Harper and McGuinty governments are partners with the farm lobby in plowing under the human rights of people doing some of the hardest and most dangerous work there is.â€