How local union in Canada is helping Pinoy TFWs

By Quay Evano, ABS-CBN Canada

Posted at Jun 05 2014 09:34 AM | Updated as of Jun 05 2014 05:34 PM

CALGARY – A local union in Calgary is helping temporary foreign workers (TFWs) become permanent residents in Canada.

Thanks to a program initiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1-1-1-8 Union in 2006, many kababayans working for Cargill Meat Solutions in High River are now Canadian citizens.

Eduardo Basa came to Canada six years ago as a temporary foreign worker and now works full-time for the union.

He said the union's collective agreement with companies dictate employers need to help their TFWs apply for permanent residency.

"It will eliminate slavery, modern-day slavery. It will eliminate discrimination and especially the term contract workers," said Basa.

Basa added their program benefits employers, employees and the whole country. He reiterates their union's statement "Making a Bad Program into a Livable Program."

"They can bring their family here, that's number one. And number two, regarding the rights, they have equal rights with the Canadian as a Canadian," he said.

A worker however must meet all the requirements of the Canadian government first before he or she gets hired by the company.

Henry Mortejo started working for Cargill in 2012 and became a union member. He is thankful to the union not only for helping him bring his wife and daughter to Canada and apply for their permanent residency, but also for helping him and his colleagues on various issues at the workplace.

"Maraming temporary foreign workers sometimes, nagkaroon ng mga problema na against sa management na napa-patch-up kaagad ng union," said Mortejo, an industrial butcher at Cargill.

With such a program in place, the moratorium on the TFW program had little effect on the thousands of Filipino TFWs in High River.

"Sila ay naging suporta din sa programa ng Temporary Foreign Worker Program at sila ang tumutulong na maging successful iyung mga tao especially iyung mga empleyado sa aming kumpaniya din," said Euben Sobrino, HR Settlement Coordinator for Cargill Meat Solutions.

The Local 1-1-1-8 Union believes in workers' equality whether they are Canadians or foreigners. For them, helping TFWs become Canadians is one way of achieving this.