(Im)migrant Work and Poverty

Labour Resolutions to Uphold Dignity of Immigrant Workers

Please find below draft resolutions based on the Migrant Labour Roundtable that NOII hosted on April 21, 2007. The roundtable was attended by (im)migrant community members and organizers as well as trade union representatives. Representatives included delegates from BC Construction and Trades Council, BC Government Employees Union, BC Nurses Union, BC Teachers Federation, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Canadian Union of Public Employees BC, Comite for Amnesty and Justice Seattle, Hospital Employees Union, Iranian Federation of Refugees, Justicia for Migrant Workers, No One is Illegal, PICS, Public Service Alliance of Canada, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, STATUS Coalition, Trade Union Research Bureau, Vancouver Distric Labour Council, and others. [Please note that these are for affiliation purposes only and do not indicate endorsements for the resolutions.]
RESOLUTIONS TO UPHOLD THE DIGNITY OF ALL MIGRANT AND IMMIGRANT WORKERS WHEREAS, Canadian immigration laws have been created to serve the needs of Canadian industry by regulating migration and providing a cheap, flexible labour pool rather than upholding the dignity of immigrants, migrants and refugees, who have often done the most dangerous and low-paying work in Canada; and

WHEREAS, free trade agreements such as NAFTA have displaced millions and have opened up the borders to the unfettered movement of corporations in search of profits and the direct and indirect Canadian involvement in foreign occupations, land-takeovers, and militarization have caused the destitution and forced displacement of millions in the Global South; and

WHEREAS, the historical and current role of Canada as a colonial state has caused the genocide of the Indigenous peoples of these territories and the violent imposition of created borders; and

WHEREAS, the self-serving “War on Terrorism” has been used as a pretext for the occupation, territorial control and exploitation of resources in the Global South while facilitating the profiling and criminalization of racialized peoples in the Global North through a fortified national security apparatus; and

WHEREAS, the Canadian government has refused to regularize the status of up to 500, 000 non-status peoples across the country, maintaining their second-class status as they live in a daily state of fear and uncertainty without reliable access to the most basic services; and

WHEREAS, the Safe Third Country agreement, implemented in 2004, has become a “virtual border wall” on the Canada / U.S. border – dropping the asylum application rate by 45%, while the rate of inhumane detentions and deportations across the country have intensified; and

WHEREAS, guest-worker programs and temporary foreign worker programs promoted through the Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement are the modern incarnations of indentured labour programs with the importation of cheap labour; and

WHEREAS, existing pathways to permanent residency such as the Point System and Refugee Determination system are highly limited and narrow in focus, discriminatory against the poor and those facing the brunt of forced migration, and divide migrants into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ categories; and

WHEREAS, the hard-won victories for (im)migrants and non-status peoples in Canada have historically been the result of heroic organizing campaigns and mobilizations led by affected communities and their allies not simply relying on state-controlled legal avenues which limit advances and only result in incomplete reforms rather than a full measure of justice; and

WHEREAS, only demilitarization and open borders will protect future immigrants from being exploited and criminalized and true “security” exists in the ability for individuals and communities to resist war, displacement, poverty and the ability to sustain one’s self and one’s community of choice with complete dignity and justice, free of social, economic and political oppression;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we work to repeal NAFTA and other existing free trade and bilateral agreements which cause the impoverishment and forced displacement of millions in the Global South; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we work to oppose initiatives under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) Agreement which will only serve to intensify an agenda of corporate free trade, border militarization, criminalization of migration, privatization and theft of indigenous land, plundering of natural resources, repression in the name of national security, impoverishment and displacement, and global wars and occupations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we work to oppose Canadian state and corporate involvement in war, occupation, and the militarization of the Global South which continue to be prime reasons for the migration of millions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call for an end to inhumane detentions and deportations of asylum seekers, migrants, and non-status peoples and work to provide sanctuary spaces for non-status peoples;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call for a full and inclusive regularization program for all migrants without full permanent residency rights to ensure free migration and full rights for all those who seek them; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call for full rights and access to social programs for all non-citizens, including but not limited to health care, social assistance, education, childcare, employment, labour protection, housing, legal aid, domestic violence services etc., without fear of identification and criminalization and without any bearing on immigrant/ refugee or family sponsorship claims; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call for an immediate end to exploitative guest-worker and temporary worker programs and work to ensure that: 1) all workers in Canada be granted permanent residency immediately upon arrival and have access to all rights accorded by residency, 2) all workers live in accommodation of their choosing and allow workers to change employers, 3) all workers be granted full rights to unionization and be covered by employment regulations and labour protection laws including rights to an impartial dispute resolution mechanism, equal wages, and an appeals mechanism for contract termination 5) all workers be able to be reunited with and live with their families; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we work for the full rights of all workers and poor people by calling for the 1) recognition of foreign credentials, 2) abolition of the provincial $6 training wage, 3) inclusion of agricultural workers in provincial labour standards to ensure full labour protections, 4) elimination of the imposition of legislation that affects collective bargaining rights, 5) implementation of a universal child care program and 6) increase of social assistance rates by 40% and elimination of arbitrary barriers to accessing social assistance such as the three-week wait, two-year independence test, two-year time limit, and single parent employability rules; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we will work to build solidarity between unionized workers, non-unionized workers and those- particularly women- who are not participants in the formal wage-labour market – recognizing that (im)migrant and non-status workers often fill non-unionized, precarious jobs and that the struggle of (im)migrants encompasses the movement against neoliberal exploitation and against war, occupation, poverty, and displacement.