Workers urgently need your support



November 2016

Workers urgently need your support


The IWC is working with a group of Temporary Foreign Workers. These workers had worked for different farms and companies in and around Victoriaville.  For various reasons linked to difficult working conditions and labour code violations, they left their employers and sought work elsewhere.  They found a temporary placement agency that had them sign contracts and pay for the transfer for their work permits to the company.  As they worked, the new employer started to deduct money from their salaries stating that he was paying himself back the recruitment fees and other fees related to their applications for new work permits.  They were of course defrauded and when one of the former employers denounced the agency the CBSA along with SQ raided their work place and arrested 15 of the workers. They spent up to three weeks in detention while the recruiter walked scot-free


One worker has a son in the hospital in Guatemala with a serious head injury and will not be able to follow-up on his treatment if the family can’t pay.  He is also in debt as he borrowed money to pay money lenders to ensure his recruitment back in Guatemala. Many of the workers are in similar situations – when they were put in detention, it appeared that they would be deported without a chance of filing complaint processes to get their money back.


The staff and volunteers of the IWC along with lawyer, Susan Ramirez, worked relentlessly to secure the release of all the detained migrant workers in this case. With the support of our network and allies they were given guarantees for food and lodging. The IWC team has filed a collective complaint with the CNESST to try to get back the money stolen from the workers, while their lawyer has filed cases with the SQ against the placement agency and the immigration consultant that colluded for fraud and criminal threats.
Our goal now is to get the workers TRPs and open work permits. This will allow them to stay to follow through with their complaints processes and allow to work to gain some income to support themselves and their families back in Guatemala.


There is still a mountain of work to do while the centre has very limited resources. We hope to support several of the workers’ families back in Guatemala, who rely on their income. While we fight for their right to earn income while they stay, their families are in dire need. There are also fees related to legal applications, not to mention travel cost associated with many of them having to meet all together at the centre to participate in the decision making surrounding their claims and the Program and the regulation of unscrupulous temp placement agencies.


These are the core campaigns of the centre and we have gained powerful actors for change in the Guatemalan workers who seek justice. But we need you help to continue! Please donate to the Immigrant Workers Centre to help with this great endeavour


Please go to our website and donate through our PayPal Account



Eric Shragge, President of the Board of Directors, on behalf of the IWC Team



Reparations for Noé, Justice for Migrant Workers!



Reparations for Noé, Justice for Migrant Workers!

Our comrade and friend Noé Arteaga Santos has struggled for almost 7 years to get justice from Savoura, his former employer. Savoura is a Quebec-based tomato producer which relies on the labour of temporary migrant workers.

Noé came to Quebec in 2008 under the Temporary Foreign Workers programme, to work picking tomatoes for Savoura. Savoura abruptly terminated his contract and asked the Guatemalan consulate to intervene. The consulate forced him to return to Guatemala before the end of his contract. The role that he played in organizing a very short strike to demand that a sick co-worker receive medical care seems to have been the main reason he was deported.

With enormous courage and persistance, this migrant worker returned to Quebec and brought a human rights complaint against Savoura. More than six years later, the tribunal decided in his favour: Savoura fired Noé without just and sufficient cause. Moreover, Savoura contravened articles 10 and 16 of the Charter of rights and freedoms, discriminating against its workers on the basis of their ethnic origin and language (read the entire decision here: This constitutes a huge victory, not only for Noé but for all temporary migrant workers and all farm workers, almost invisible in our society. Working in precarious conditions, often exploited by their employers, they provide us with food.

However, before an agreement on compensation for Noé was reached, Savoura declared bankruptcy.

We are now asking: WHO WILL PAY?

We are launching a compaign in solidarity with Noé and all temporary migrant workers, to demand that Savoura and the Quebec Minister of Labour assume their responsibilities in this affair.

We realize that, realistically, it is going to be a long time before the State and Capital agree to make reparations and stop exploiting workers … In the meantime, we are turning towards you, members of our communities, to ask for your support and solidarity, to provide the compensation due to him.

We are aiming for $50,000. This is the amount identified by Noé as damages in negotiations with Savoura. It is a calculated on the basis of $10,000 lost salary per year for five years. The money we gather will be used to reimburse Noé for previous costs in his campaign (airplane ticket for his deportation and return to Quebec, administrative legal fees, travel costs, etc.) as well as future leg


Please join us on Saturday June 6 at 1pm for an information session on Unemployment Insurance Rights, at the Immigrant Workers Center (4755 Van Horne, office 110, Montreal, Plamondon Metro. The workshop will be given by Mouvement action-chômage and the Comité chômage de l’est. For more information, please call 514-341-2111. Please note that this workshop will only be given in French.
Please forward this information to anyone who might be interested.
In solidarity,
Temporary Agency Workers Association



memoires-migrantes Mémoire Migrante. Photo Biron Desbois.

From Janurary 25 to Feburary 28, unit 138 will host the residency of an interdisciplinary artist collective, The Artists’Bloc of the IWC (Immigrant Workers Center). They invited everyone to meet them while they’ll be working and doing research for their artistic project Migrant Memory, Living Memory in the opening hours of the local, or for their free activities and workshop. Anyone who step in and meet them will get to know more about their artistic vision and/or to take part in their creations. Follow their facebook page for happining activities.

Unit 138 Opening Hours:

Friday: 4pm to 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday: 12pm to 5pm

The Artists’ Bloc of the IWC is a group of immigrant workers diverse in origin and immigration situation. Artists, activists, workers and their allies, we create at the intersections of community, artistic practice, and social justice. We are united in our shared project to empower, support and listen to those that are most affected in confronting their situations of precarity, and to cultivate their dynamic leadership in giving direction to this project.

Together we move from critical thought to social action, from critical capacity to reinforcing autonomy, by sharing our stories of the good and the bad in our immigrant experience: people’s stories, stories of struggles that have led to victories, stories of our vulnerabilities materialized, of our unity that leads to strength.

The Artists’ Bloc is a group that manifests through spoken words and gesture. Our workshops regularly take place in French, English, Spanish and Arabic. Our creations take form in physical theatre, performance art, public interventions, and our messages are spread through our bodies, our banners, costumes, paint, and visual installations. Our work has been covered by radio, television, media, video and online. Our networks exist across this continent.

The Immigrant Workers’ Center (IWC) defends the rights of immigrants in their places of work and fights for dignity, respect, and justice. Some of our principal objectives include: improving living and working conditions for immigrant workers; mobilsing around workplace issues (including workplace accidents, harassment, unpaid wages or overtime, maternity leave, etc.); providing a safe place for immigrant workers to receive information, resources, and referrals. We offer these references and resources in several languages.

Free Activites & Workshops!

Saturday January 31: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Open House

The theme of immigration sits at the meeting between Canadian and Quebecois societies. This social phenomenon is explored through a diversity of voices attempting to explore the different dimensions of their experiences in Quebec.

Come meet members of the Artists’ Bloc of the IWC, a collective of artists, activists and (im)migrants working at the intersection of art, community and social justice. Video projections and installations of past works will be on display, as well as members of the collective to share their work.

Saturday February 7: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Stories & Migration

Immigration knows many causes and effects. Our personal stories are intermixed with structural factors allowing for the transfer of goods and global capital. This workshop will facilitate voices that speak of the origins and reasons for seeking out a possible future in other places.

A day for exchange, a storytelling workshop, the sharing of stories of migration – across the city of Montreal, and across this continent.

An intergenerational workshop, open to all ages!

Saturday February 14th: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – We Make the Road by Walking

Temporary work has become more and more of a constant in immigrants’ lives in Canada and Quebec. Similarly temporary agencies become a constant in immigrants’ lives, giving direction to migrant and immigrant labor. These voices invite us to reflect on the effects of this reality on their daily lives.

A day for collective creation, these discussions will take place around an interactive and creative sculptural installation. Artists, agencies, workers, (im)migrants and witnessing will all be called upon.




The Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC)
Invites you
Saturday December 13, 2014
3:00 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the IWC
4755 Van Horne, suite 110
(Metro Plamondon)

This year the IWC Artists’ Bloc calls an open meeting, a retrospective look at 2014 and our artistic interventions, and a collective re-imagining of our actions together. For us to decide how we will move forward together, in our communities and in our common struggles!

Since its founding in 2012, the IWC Artist Bloc continues to evolve as a community activist art project, co-created by and for workers to share stories of resistance and dignity in struggle.

With performances at the IWC Mayworks festival, the Sala Rossa, and the Howl! Arts Festival; workshops hosted with Engrenage Rouage Noir and our community space at the IWC; public interventions at the Encuentro for Performance and Politics in the Americas, the Status for All march, St. Joseph’s Oratory, the Mexican Consulate in Montreal, and the Day for Decent Work conditions.

How can our collective projects continue to support existing IWC campaigns? What forms do we want this work and our organizing to take? What will our future projects look like? We invite members of the IWC, Artists’ Bloc participants and our communities to come together and co-create our future actions together.





Along with other organisations in the world, we, the Coalition against precarious work, invite andencourage you to join us in a rally to unite our voices in order to defend our right to decent work that fulfills our needs and aspirations.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 7th at 5:30 PM

WHERE: Square-Victoria, Square-Victoria-OACI metro-station, Montreal, Québec.



Foreign Workers Denounce Labour Situation in Canada


Canadian foreign workers fight for their rights and demand an end to their precarious situations.


In Canada, immigrant workers denounce the precarious labour situations they face. These workers request, of the Federal and Provincial governments, a new and fairer regulation for the labour market as well as better social protection. The temporary foreign workers, placement’s agency workers, and domestic workers are affected by labour precocity, which makes them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by their employers. The immigrant workers in precarious situations do not find that the latest minimum-wage increase of $10.35 per hour, which was implemented in May 2014, is sufficient to cover their basic needs. According to the Citizenship and Immigration Minister, there were close to 340 thousand people working in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in 2012.



Jorge Zagarra, Montreal

RANKANDFILE.CA interested in TFWA’s struggles !




By Samantha Ponting


There are many reasons why labour unions have failed, on the whole, to build the collective power of migrant workers. Legislative restraints, transient workplaces, language barriers, and the geographical and social isolation of migrant workers make it difficult for trade unions to bridge divides.




The Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) is a hotbed for worker intimidation – the threat of deportation constantly lingers. The need for support and education is particularly urgent in workplaces where taking risks for one’s rights can have dire consequences.


Loïc Malhaire and Enrique Llanes Iglesias are community organizers with theImmigration Workers’ Centre (IWC), an organization created in 2000 to defend the rights of immigrant workers with precarious work and immigration statuses.


Led largely by migrant workers for migrant workers, the IWC is uniting migrants across the province of Quebec to collectively defend their rights.


The IWC, based out of Montréal, is a unique organization in Canada – it aims to organize temporary foreign workers and temporary agency workers through a membership-based model. Led largely by migrant workers for migrant workers, the IWC is uniting migrants across the province of Quebec to collectively defend their rights.

With a focus on two major campaigns, the centre conducts outreach, case work, service provision, and mobilization.

“The first campaign is about temporary agency workers. These jobs are part of the local job market. Temporary agencies hire a lot of immigrant workers,” says Malhaire.

The IWC’s Temporary Agency Workers Association advocates for greater industry regulation for temp agencies, and for greater accountability measures for companies that use temporary agencies. It educates temporary workers about their rights and organizes these workers together.


The IWC’s Temporary Foreign Workers Association is a worker-led organization that organizes migrant workers in Quebec. 

Listen to’s full interview with Loic Malhaire and Enrique Llanes Iglesias of the Immigrant Workers Centre:


Creating “new forms of defense”


Malhaire and Iglesias say that our current methods of mobilizing workers need to reflect the realities of precarious labour. IWC attempts to do this.

Loïc Malhaire, community organizer with the Immigrant Workers Centre

“We can observe that the federal government in Canada created many programs and many job statuses linked to immigration status that escape traditional protection of the unions,” says Malhaire.


“We are in front of new job statuses and we need to create new forms of defense,” he says.


In some provinces across the country, including Ontario, temporary foreign workers (TFWs) do not have the right to join unions. Five months ago, this right was established in Quebec for agricultural workers – the last sector to see the right to associate recognized for TFWs.


But these rights are again under threat. Iglesias says that the Quebec government is pursuing similar legislation adopted in Ontario. Through restricting collective bargaining rights, the TFWP uses immigration status as a tool to circumvent labour laws.


Isolation and abuse in the TFWP


In Quebec, the geographical and social isolation of TFWs in the agricultural sector poses additional barriers for organizing workers.


“The government obliges the employer to host the worker. So the workers have to stay at the workplace and live there. They are totally controlled by the employers in terms of mobility,” says Malhaire.


“If they want to go out of the property, they have to ask for permission to do it. We are talking about new forms of transitory slavery.” 


Within and outside the agricultural sector, employers have routinely deprived workers of their official documents, taken away their passports, and searched their private mail. In some cases, TFWs have been coerced into signing contracts that surrender them to these procedures.


Iglesias says that employers will fine workers if they don’t follow orders. Fines are used as a penalty system, culminating in deportation. This regime of discipline is made possible through a lack of government regulation and through policies that facilitate these conditions for exploitation.


When migrant workers require interpreters, they are given interpreters hired by the company. When visiting doctors, workers are made particularly vulnerable, relying on the company’s interpreters to communicate workplace injuries and other health problems.


Recent Reforms to the Program


Iglesias says the Harper government’s recent reforms are “deepening and worsening problems.”

Among the major reforms instated this June include a 10 per cent cap on the number of low-skilled temporary foreign workers hired for a worksite, and an application fee increase from $275 to $1,000, paid by the employer per worker requested.


“What they are doing is not going to solve the problems of the temporary foreign workers here, nor the ones that are coming. It is not going to solve the problems of Canadian workers. It’s not going to make those jobs better paid, or with better working conditions.” 


Malhaire says, “We can observe in our fieldwork with the centre that these kinds of fees are already charged by the employers to the workers, illegally, of course.”


“When the worker arrives to the workplace, he will do more hours unpaid. Rent will be higher as well.” He says, “We know that this $1000 will make the workers more vulnerable because they will pay this cost.”


Small Victories



“We are just starting to do this work. We don’t know the future, but we can be optimistic because we’ve gotten some good results, some good victories in terms of defense,” says Malhaire.


Iglesias cites the recent introduction of the right to association for TFWs in the agricultural sector in Quebec. Some of the IWC’s case work has had positive outcomes. Recently, the centre won a successful claim against a Montréal video game company that engaged in collective firings. This victory was achieved despite the fact that many of the immigrant workers had already been sent back to their home countries.


But “you cannot do it one by one,” affirms Iglesias.

About the organizers

Enrique Llanes Iglesias is an a staff person with the IWC’s Temporary Foreign Workers’ Association, and has worked in Canada as a Spanish Linguistic Tester for the video game industry as a temporary foreign worker. Loïc Malhaire is a board member and volunteer organizer for the IWC.







(September 3, 2013) The Solidarity City campaign in Montreal calls on all Quebec hospitals and medical facilities to refuse access to agents of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Medical facilities should exist to offer quality and accessible health care, not to collaborate in the detention and deportation of migrants. All medical facilities in Quebec should be off-limits to border agents.

There have been troubling incidents of CBSA harassment at hospitals in the Montreal-area. In late July, at least three border agents intervened at the Montreal General Hospital, trying to arrest a 57 year-old woman with heart problems. CBSA agents even entered a monitored care area in the emergency room. (info:

Last year, border agents similarly entered the emergency room of the Royal Victoria Hospital, despite opposition from medical personnel. There are also credible reports of more incidents.

The role of medical facilities is to provide the best care possible to patients, and the presence of CBSA agents disrupts that mission.

We make this public statement as part of an effort to build a Solidarity City in Montreal that rejects isolation and fear and aims to create networks of support and mutual aid, as neighbors, workers and members of a shared community,

We demand Health Care For All: meaning that no one should be refused health services as a result of their immigration status. We also support efforts to preserve and reinforce a universally accessible and publicly funded health care system.

More generally, everybody should have access to health care, education, social housing, food banks, unemployment benefits and any other social welfare regardless of immigration status. Labour norms and human rights should apply equally to all.

We ask that all medical facilities in Quebec, especially the Montreal-area, disallow the CBSA on their premises as an urgent matter of public policy and health.This callout is supported by the following organizations and individuals working in the health care sector in Quebec:

– Solidarité sans frontières / Solidarity Across Borders, Montréal
– Centre d’aide aux familles latino américaines (CAFLA), Montréal
– Centre des femmes d’ici et d’ailleurs, Montréal
– Clinique communautaire de Pointe-Saint-Charles, Montréal
– Collectif Justice Santé / Health Justice Collective, Montréal
– À deux mains services de santé / Head & Hands Health Services, Montréal
– Médecins du Monde Canada, Montréal
– Projet Refuge, Montréal


[To support this declaration, as someone working in the health care sector, please write to with you name and affiliation(s); you can sign as an individual or as an organization. If you are not in the health care sector, but would like to support the Solidarity City campaign, consider signing the following Solidarity City declaration as an organization: Contact to endorse the Solidarity City declaration.]




On Thursday, the 24th of April, the Immigrant Workers Center presented the first edition of
“La Voix des Migrant(e)s”, a trilingual (English, French and Spanish) newspaper, which is aimed to share workers’ struggles and victories, to provide relevant information about workers’ rights, and to begin a discussion of how we can change unjust laws and practices. The paper is produced by a team of immigrant workers and volunteers from IWC, and it will appear once in three months.
Here some reactions of people who made this paper possible.

Martin Cook


I think it is a great opportunity to reach out to people. IWC can get it to different factories, different warehouses where people are working, and going out to speak to workers about issues that affect them.
It will be great to have a newspaper that will help to do more effectively the outreach they have been doing, and just have the newspaper to share more stories as well as to ask workers to share stories they’re facing. That will help building organisation like TAWA, fight for workers rights to make some changes.

Alison Gault


It’s an incredible opportunity for IWC to have something as big as a newspaper that would bring their word out in English, French and Spanish. It’s really incredible the work that was done by the committee with Temporary Agency Workers Association. It is an opportunity for workers to be the driving force of this newspaper.

Mostafa Henaway


It’s a way to break the fear in terms of what workers feel, a general outlet for their grievances in the work place, and workers rights in general. The paper is a critical tool for us to be able to express those grievances and the stories of workers that are very important; also it’s a tool to show to the public the activities that constantly are going on at the IWC. It’s a very important project for us as a center.