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1 Nov 2023

Jim Wilson, The Safety Mag (Canada)

Canada: Komienski workers pen open letter to officials over continued abuse months after colleagues were repatriated to Jamaica over labour complaints

"'They think of us as some type of a slave': Jamaican farm workers,"

Months after the Jamaican government expressed concerns that its citizens working on farms in Canada were being mistreated, officials from Jamaica returned to Ontario to investigate additional complaints from the workers.

Last week, Jamaican officials visited several farms in Ontario, as reported by CTV News. This visit came in response to workers who claimed they were "supposed to work like animals" in their current conditions.

In an open letter shared by Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a group of workers from Brantford, Ontario, raised their concerns with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)...

"We are all workers trying to build a better life, but it feels like we are doing worse in Canada than back home," said the group of workers. These workers are employed under the Commonwealth Seasonal Agricultural Workers program, according to J4MW.

"We have to work extremely hard to earn money. We feel terrible about the way we are being treated. We are expected to work like animals, as if we have no time for rest. We are pushed to the limits. If any of us clock out, it becomes a problem," they added...

The open letter did not identify the specific farm where these workers were employed. However, an advocate for Justice for Migrant Workers confirmed that the farmers who wrote the letter worked at Komienski Farms, according to the CTV News report.

"These employers sometimes treat us like slaves, by the way they speak to us and greet us," said a 32-year-old Jamaican worker referred to as Alex, who was involved in writing the letter while speaking from Komienski Farms. "I don't want to label them as racist, but sometimes it feels that way," he added.

The employer did not respond to CTV News' request for comments, according to the report...