Advocates Network wants findings of farmwork probe disclosed Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Advocates Network (AN) is demanding that the Ministry of Labour disclose the result of the investigation into the working conditions of Jamaican farmworkers under the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme.

The AN is also demanding swift actions to protect the workers.

At the same time, the group is commending the ministry on deploying a fact-finding team (FFT) to carry out the investigation, and said it “appreciates the efforts made to establish a complete scope of the issues and concerns”.

It is reported that the team visited farms, and met with farm workers and advocacy groups, among other duties.

According to Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), farm workers feel that the Jamaican government is not doing enough to protect migrant farm workers.

“We want them to speak up and tell the Canadian government to give us permanent resident status so we can protect ourselves from bad living and working conditions,” one farmworker stated.

The AN notes that on October 23, 2022, the FFT met with MWAC, which included advocates and current and former farm workers.

“It was reported that on arrival back to Jamaica on October 24, 2022, it would take two to four weeks for a report consisting of findings and recommendations to be completed and submitted to the Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda, who would table the report in Parliament,” the AN said.

The network noted the difficulty and the sacrifice made by some persons who have given statements during the fact-finding mission. “We have learned that at least two farm workers who met with the Fact-Finding Team were not invited back to work on the programme, and were given no explanation,” the network said.

The AN has asked the following questions:

Are there mechanisms in place to assure that farm workers standing up for their rights do not face retaliation?How is the Ministry of Labour and Social Security protecting Farm Workers in light of the expressed concerns?When will the report be tabled in Parliament or shared with the public?

“As tax-payers, who paid for the fact-finding team investigation, we demand full disclosure and swift actions to remedy the concerns of Canadian Farm Workers,” the AN said.

“The Jamaican people must continue to hold the government accountable for protecting Jamaicans at home and abroad. This is no nine-day wonder…Wi naw ease up,” the network said.