More layoffs hit foreign workers at mushroom farm

Posted by admin on Dec 23rd, 2008

Dec 23, 2008 12:15 PM, Toronto Star. Lesley Ciarula Taylor

Another 50 migrant farm workers were told today they’ve been fired by a mushroom factory in Campbellville, Ont., near Guelph, just two days before Christmas. That’s on top of 70 Mexican and Jamaican farm workers fired earlier this month by Rol-Land Farms. And it comes just as Justicia for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group, launched a food and shelter drive for the immigrants, who are brought to Ontario on temporary permits to work in agriculture.

The most recently fired workers, most of them women from Guatemala, were told they’ll be evicted from factory housing they rent from Rol-Land and shipped back to Central America next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Many of the 120 farm workers borrow money to pay the fees and visas the federal government’s temporary foreign worker program requires, and use their wages in Canada to repay those loans.

Justicia put out a call on Tuesday for donations of food and shelter for the fired workers, whose work permits are tied to Rol-land.

The company, Canada’s largest mushroom farm, won court protection from creditors two weeks ago after the Bank of Montreal demanded payment Nov. 27 on a $35.3 million loan. Rol-land says the layoffs are part of its efforts to restructure.

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