Canada Border Services Celebrates Canada Day by Detaining Migrant Worker

Posted by admin on Jul 12th, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

VANCOUVER – On the heels of Canada Day, on July 2nd Canada Border Services agents barged into Carlos’ apartment and demanded to know why he had participated in protests against his former employer for non-payment of wages. They detained Carlos and held him in detention over the weekend, saying that his VISA had expired two weeks before. Carlos (not his real name) is one of 17 migrant workers who put in a claim at the Employment Standards Branch for unpaid wages against RDM Hudson, a family-owned painting business. RDM Hudson was contracted by Bastion Development Corporation to paint luxury million dollar condos at Coast UBC and Pulse at Maple and West Broadway. RDM hired migrant workers, promised many of them papers, and then refused to pay them. The workers’ claim at Employment Standards now totals $73,127.

“The CBSA agent said he is searching for all of the RDM workers. He crossed my name off a list of my co-workers when he detained me,” says Carlos. “Clearly we are being pursued for taking action against our employer. They treat us like criminals, but RDM Hudson is the real criminal.”

In January 2010, Carlos and other former RDM workers took their case to the Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice, who helped the workers write up the complaints against RDM Hudson as part of their campaign “No
Wage Theft, No to Wage Slavery”. “Employment Standards told these workers that they have the same labour rights as Canadian workers. But clearly Canada Border Services is saying if you try to assert those rights, you will be deported,” says Beth Grayer of the Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice. “The Canadian state is sending a clear message to employers that if you hire migrant workers, you do not need to pay them – work them like animals, then call CBSA to get them off your hands.”

People without status and undocumented workers are experiencing intensified raids on homes and workplaces across the country. “Canadian employers want migrant workers to work for low wages, vulnerable to abuses for fear of deportation, then they want to throw them out of the country like disposable tools,” says Grayer. “The RDM workers are an example to all workers, migrant and otherwise, of the courage it takes to stand up for our rights and assert our dignity.”

Following his release, Carlos said he is worried about his former co-workers, “Canada Border Services should stop pursuing us and instead support us in our case against RDM Hudson, who is guilty of hiring undocumented workers and stealing our wages.”

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