A Canadian union accuses Mexican consular officials in Vancouver of blacklisting and harassing Mexican farm workers who voted in favour of forming a union at two Surrey, B.C., farms.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union told a Vancouver news conference Tuesday it has filed complaints about the alleged activities with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
The complaints suggest the consulate informed officials in Mexico of the names of migrant workers who supported the union drive, and those workers were refused entry to Canada or were not allowed to return to the unionized work sites.
Leaked consular documents show that the pro-union workers were blocked by Mexican officials from returning to Canada this season, said UFCW national president Wayne Hanley.
Consulate denies allegations
The consulate is also intimidating workers already in Canada, he said.
"Workers have wanted to join the union and the consulate has gone to the workplace and threatened workers with being sent back to Mexico," said Hanley.
Hanley said he believes the Mexican government is under pressure from employers to ensure a cheap supply of labour.
"The Mexican government, I think, is trying to protect its turf in the agricultural sector and the migrant workers that come to Canada each year," he said.
Hanley said the workers were employed at Floralia Farms and Sidhu Nurseries, where employees voted to certify a union.
In a brief telephone interview with CBC News, a spokesman for the Mexican consulate in Vancouver denied the union's claims and said officials had heard nothing yet from the B.C. Labour Relations Board about the union's complaints.