The letter to Jamaican Labour Minister Karl Samuda, was written by migrant farm workers from two southern Ontario farms and said they are subject to “systemic slavery” and that “it feels like we are in prison.
“We are treated like mules and punished for not working fast enough. We are exposed to dangerous pesticides without proper protection. Our bosses are verbally abusive, swearing at us. They physically intimidate us, destroy our property, and threaten to send us home,” they wrote.
The said they cannot appeal to government authorities to safely intervene because"when we call our liaison officers for help, they do not respond to us or worse, they take our bosses' side and put a red mark next to our name so we are not hired back anywhere next season.
“This fear is what stops us and our fellow migrant farm workers from speaking up for our rights as workers and humans."
The NFU said it supports the calls for justice outlined in the Jamaican open letter, including: implementing and enforcing national housing standards, the issuing of open work permits that are not tied to a single employer, a functioning and protective anonymous system to report abusive employer, an end to blacklisting, legal worker representation in contract negotiations and, most importantly, the granting of permanent resident status to all migrants on arrival, including seasonal farmworkers.