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AFL: Government foreign worker office long overdue - but still misses the point

Government foreign worker office long overdue - but still misses the point

Labour cautiously optimistic over government's foreign worker advocates

EDMONTON, Dec. 10 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour reacted with
guarded optimism to the Government's new measures announced today to protect
temporary foreign workers.
The two special advisory offices for temporary foreign workers are a
welcome - if long overdue - measure," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "The AFL
had set up its own temporary foreign workers' advocate office last spring as a
result of seeing a desperate need for such a measure."
McGowan also lauded the new investigative role assigned to the eight
Employment Standards Officers assigned to investigate complaints by temporary
foreign workers and to launch investigations and inspections on their own
initiative. "We know from our own experience that many temporary foreign
workers are either unaware of their rights or simply afraid to pursue those
rights because of fears they will be sent home."
The real problem labour has with the new initiative is that it doesn't
deal with the underlying issues surrounding the use of temporary foreign
workers. "We are using these workers as disposable commodities to deal with
very real inadequacies in our workplace training system and problems with our
immigration system," says McGowan. "We are letting employers and government
off the hook for failures of the system to train adequate number of workers
with required skills and to pay wages and benefits sufficient to attract and
retain Canadian workers," says McGowan.
Labour has also been very consistent in its opposition to the temporary
foreign worker program, according to McGowan. "We say if these people are good
enough to work here, they are good enough to be eligible for Canadian
citizenship. The whole rent-a-worker aspect of the program is unacceptable."


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