Montreal, 2 March 2015 — It took five years of tribunal procedures against Savoura for two Guatemalan farm-workers to win their case of wrongful dismissal against the Quebec-based Tomato producer. But news of the company’s financial difficulties has crushed the hopes of the two men that they will ever receive compensation.
“I was satisfied with the judgement,” said Noé Arteaga Santos, one of the two farm-workers. “So it was very discouraging on a personal level to read that Savoura is on the point of bankruptcy and we may never be compensated. It is even more disturbing on a general level that, since Bill 8 was adopted and the Labour Code modified on 21 October 2013, farm-[E1] workers in Quebec can no longer unionize to defend their rights. With regards to our compensation, however, we really hope that justice will prevail and that we will receive our compensation. It is our right. If that does not happen, we will fight back to get it.”[E2]
Noé Arteaga Santos and his colleague came to Quebec to work for Savoura under the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme in 2008. They were abruptly fired and deported to Guatemala before the end of their contract; Noé believes that his role in organizing a brief strike to demand that a sick colleague be allowed medical treatment was central in the decision to fire him. The two men laid a complaint against the company, which went to arbitration.
On 11 December 2014, Me Francine Lamy, acting as an artiber in the case, ruled that Savoura had fired the two without just and sufficient cause and had violated articles 10 and 16 of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating against them on the basis of their ethnic and national origin and language. She reserved judgement on reparations, asking the parties to come to an agreement on damages. The judgement can be read here.
“Numerous employers who make use of the Temporary Foreign Workers Programme are guilty of abusing the rights of their workers. But from now on, workers can no longer turn to unions for support in bringing these abuses to light,” explained Noé.
Download the Spanish translation here.
[E1]Noe. Me gusta el comunicado. Pero el tono es como si ya tuvieras la certeza de que no te van a pagar. Aunque este tono puede ayudar a llamar la atención de la prensa, es necesario sonar menos en tono de derrota y decir que en caso de que no te compensen, vas a pelear para obtener la compensación, misma que es tu derecho. Por eso sugiero añadir la frase que puse en el siguiente párrafo, y que está en rojo. U decides si la conservas o no. Es todo en cuanto a mis sugerencias. El comunicado es excelente.
[E2]Traducción: Con respecto a nuestra compensación, sin embargo, nosotros realmente tenemos fe en que la justicia prevalecerá y que recibiremos nuestra compensación. Es nuestro derecho. Si eso no ocurre, pelearemos.