Reparations for Noé, Justice for Migrant Workers!

Sunday, 19 July at 2pm
corner of Queen Mary and Côte des neiges (in the park)

Fundraiser (indiegogo)

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. After Noé participated in the organization of a very short strike to demand that a sick co-worker receive medical care, Savoura abruptly fired him. Noé was then forced to return to Guatemala.

Returning to Canada, Noé 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, in spring 2015, before an agreement on compensation for Noé was reached, Savoura declared bankruptcy. However, the Savoura label continues.

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

Justice for Noé Committee
supported by Immigrant Workers Centre, Mexicans United for Regularization, Solidarity Across Borders, le Comité pour les droits humaines en Amérique latineObservatoire critique de droits humains des immigrants et immigrantes and the Industrial Workers of the World

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



Picket in support of Temporary  Migrant Farm Workers

Thursday, 2 December, 9am
99, ave. Viger Ouest (métro Square Victoria)

Come out for a short rally in support of the struggle of temporary migrant farm workers for justice and respect in Quebec!

Two migrant farm workers, Noé Arteaga Santos and Isaias Garcia Castillo, have brought a complaint before Québec’s Commission des relations du travail against Les Serres du St-Laurent Inc, a Quebec company which produces Savoura tomatoes. The company summarily fired and deported Arteaga Santos to Guatemala after he and other workers participated in a work stoppage to draw attention to the plight of a fellow worker who was not receiving the medical treatment he needed. After returning to Canada, he and Garcia Castillo launched the complaint to protest this and other unjust treatment by Savoura. The complaint has gone to arbitration, and the first of two arbitration hearings will take place on 2 December.

In solidarity with all migrant farm workers, we will rally to demand that these workers be re-instated at work and that their other demands for basic justice – such as overtime pay, the cost of the plane ticket to Guatemala, and an apology – be met by Savoura. We also demand that they be given status and we call for the full regularization of all non-status people.

–> Article in Hour, 20 August 2009:
–> Statement by Arteaga, 1 December 2009:

Under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Workers Programme (TFWP), Quebec agri-businesses increasingly rely on cheap “disposable workers” from Guatemala, Mexico and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean. More than 4000 temporary Guatemalan farm workers are employed in Canada, mostly in Québec.

Canada in fact relies on foreign workers to satisfy different industry and service demands for short-term cheap labour in sectors like seasonal agriculture, live-in care-givers, oil sands construction, and food-processing. But reforms that were brought in last December prevent temporary workers from getting status in Canada by restricting them to working four years in Canada and then barring them from returning to the country for six years. While workers are barred after four years, employers are free to continue to bring workers from different source countries. This entrenches a permanent workforce that is expendable and powerless in exercising workers’ rights – an exploitable underclass of vulnerable workers who live without status and who are deprived of the most basic protections.

In this context, those who dare to speak out against violations or insist on their contract rights, like Arteaga and Castillo, are quickly and brutally dealt with. It is crucial that others in Quebec, who benefit from the fruit of their labour, stand up in solidarity.

The 2009 reforms are part of a larger shift in Canada’s immigration policy towards creating a disposable migrant workforce with few rights. In 2008, for the first time, more people entered the work force through exploitive temporary work programs than those with access to permanent residency. Refugee quotas for 2010 were slashed by 60%, and deportations have doubled in the last decade. The number of permanent residents is decreasing each year. Funding for family reunification programs has been cut, and there is restricted access to citizenship through skilled worker programs for people who respond to a designated 38 occupations. The newly introduced Bill C-49 proposes further reforms that will make it more difficult for refugees to get to Canada and will punish some of those who do make it with mandatory detention and more barriers to status.


Picket endorsed by:
Solidarité sans frontières
Immigrant Workers’ Centre



THE ARTISTS’ BLOC January– December 2013bloc


The Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) is a human rights organization, located in the multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges since 2000. The workers the Centre looks after often face exploitation and discriminatory living conditions. Largely because of their status, these people lack job security, as well as access to education and health services, and often face the risk of deportation at any moment.

IWC continues to raise awareness by hosting monthly workshops, training sessions, and biweekly legal clinics. At the same time, it is organizing two campaigns. One targets employment agencies, which hire many of the aforementioned workers. Many are employed in restaurants, hotels, factories, and in housekeeping, without being sure that they will be paid, or whether there will even be work for them the next day. These agencies exploit their clients, who are hard-pressed to earn enough to survive, and have little knowledge of the labour market, and its laws. Companies using these agencies have fewer responsibilities than if they were hiring permanent staff, and must be held accountable for exploitation. IWC has focused on the difficult working conditions in Dollarama warehouses, which uses agencies to employ 500 mostly-African immigrant workers for a pittance, usually in unsafe working conditions that have resulted in accidents. This situation produces systemic racism: Africans and white supervisors!

The IWC campaign aims to highlight the injustices of the Canadian Government Temporary Foreign Worker Program, created to meet the immediate manpower needs of large corporations, and increase their profits at the expense of people. Until recently, this program allowed foreign workers to be paid 15% less than the minimum wage – the Centre has worked with Tunisian welders working in the Saguenay, and landscapers in western Montreal. Unfortunately, these situations are quite common, and the struggle for respect in the workplace is always necessary, when faced with bosses who believe that exploitation is justified, especially if a person’s status is related to the stipulations in their work permit. Quebec’s agrofood businesses increasingly rely on cheap and easily “disposable” labour from Guatemala, Mexico and other Central American countries, as well as the Caribbean. Eric Shragge, cofounder, former chairman of the board, and member of IWC’s volunteer staff says that changes in the capitalist system happen very quickly, and the level of exploitation increases daily.

The Center also seeks equal access to CSST (Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail) services for caregivers. In 2013, IWC launched a campaign to ensure equal access to social services for precarious workers in Quebec, regardless of their status. There are over 450,000 employees in Quebec who work in jobs that qualify as precarious.

One of IWC’s goals is to build a labour movement, as well as a balance of power in the workplace and in the affected communities. Aadi Ndir, volunteer activist and community organizer at the Center since 2010, states,”What we really do is outreach work, because we go into circles where we are likely to meet immigrant workers, and were we suspect abuse may be taking place. We try to mobilize them and give them advice about their rights, according to the country’s minimum labour standards.”

The organization provides support services on an individual basis in up to six languages (English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Iranian, Bengali, Tagalog, etc.), whether it be in dealings with the Commission des normes du travail, the CSST, or with employers directly. According to Eric Schragge, it does so in a highly politicized manner, asking clients if there are others in the same situation as them, or if there is something that can be done for them collectively. Those who enter the IWC office are well-aware that their work-related problems are caused by corporations, Canadian immigration policies, etc. They’ve made their own assessment. The Centre only helps them to identify and deepen their understanding of the facts.

The IWC has adopted a democratic process, which ensures that its direction is determined by the worker-members. These are people struggling to find a sense of fairness and equity in the workplace. Workers are the direct contacts and leading players in organization-led campaigns, or at meetings with representatives of the Ministère du Travail. It shows more credibility when the workers suffering from exploitation talk about their lives on their own behalf.

The organization seeks to develop leaders from the community who can articulate claims, develop an analysis and enlist others in the same situation. No one but people from the field can do it.

According to Mostafa Henaway, community organizer at IWC, the bulk of the agency’s work has always been cultural in nature, that is to say, developing platforms and a means of enabling people to express their own experiences, and not just making statements at picket lines or events. The expression of individual experiences is important for the kind of movement that the Centre wants to create. When people work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, they not only experience poor working conditions or the deprivation of legal rights, but lose their humanity as well.

Activism is part of this human rights organization’s culture. Several project members were workers who had already been involved in Centre campaigns for some time. One of the reasons that motivated the Centre to develop an activist community art project in line with its principles was fostering a sense of leadership among immigrant workers, and their desire to represent themselves and regain control over their own history.

Aadi says, “We explored communicational channels so that these people could speak freely about the difficult working conditions they encounter. It is not easy for this group of people to talk about workplace rights. Essentially, it is done via events, campaigns, or testimonials, etc. Every time, however, we have run into obstacles where people did not feel comfortable enough to describe their difficult living conditions. Perhaps, this project could be a less intimidating setting, or a setting where people would feel more comfortable and less isolated, as a condition to sharing their experience. Art is more flexible and user-friendly.”

For the ROUAGE project, the agency decided to establish a collective of artists, consisting of Koby Rogers Hall, a performer and intercultural art and political activism enthusiast, as well as Mostafa, community organizer, and IWC Coordinator for the Centre’s various art events and projects. This “coalition” allowed for a direct link with the organization to be established, and to make a financial contribution for the work that would have to be performed outside of business hours.





Elections in Mexico: Organizations in Québec and Canada express their deep concern about the violent repression of the Mexican state against its civilian population

Montreal, June 5 2015. Sunday the June 7 is election day in Mexico. Elections are being held to elect governors in 9 states, mayors, local deputies in 17 states and federal deputies throughout the country. The run up to this election has been marred by extensive violence; 20 political assassinations in 10 states, 6 civilian murders (4 in Ixcaputzalgo, Guerrero and 2 in Peto, Yucatan) and 6 civilian injuries as a result of an armed confrontation with government forces in Peto and Yucatán. Furthermore, 70 kidnappings and extortion cases and death threats to people have also been reported by groups linked to electoral interest.

Most importantly, delegations of the National Electoral Institute (INE) have been reportedly attacked by dissident groups in at least six states (Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz), while electoral documentation has been destroyed or burned, in Guerrero and Oaxaca.

Mexico presently, is amidst a grave human rights crisis which has been brought to the attention of the international community and human rights watch dogs by the relentless efforts of the nation’s vibrant civil society. There has been a demand of justice in the case of the 43 students who went missing last September, and also in the case of the recent targeted killings and extrajudicial murders allegedly carried out by the Mexican army, federal and local police in Tlatlaya , Apatzingan and Tanhuato. All of these cases and the callous attitude of the government has prompted protesting organisations backed by the Mexican civil society to boycott the elections. The principle demand being the safe return of the 43 missing students belonging to the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa. These innocent students were kidnapped by the local police in collusion with the federal police and the national army. We should not forget that this landmark case adds itself to the long and cruel list of more than 24,000 cases of disappearances and kidnappings at the hand of the state since 2006; with an average 13 disappearances per day, 100, 000 murders and 250 000 forced displacements, the government led by Peña Nieto ,is nothing short of an oppressive, cruel and corrupt military state running under the garb of pseudo democracy.

A statement issued on June 1, 2015 by the People’s Council Tixtla, denounced the curtailing of human rights and harassment suffered by its organization by the ministerial police who as a ploy, repeatedly infiltrated the organization in plainclothes to monitor and intimidate people linked to the organization . Moreover, the Committee of students from the Normal School of Ayotzinapa say that on June 2, 2015 the federal police illegaly stormed their premises without provocation and arrested 3 students , who had to be released 24 hours later under immense pressure from the public. Continuing the string of cruelty on Wednesday, the 3rd of June, more than 1000 armed federal police personnel were stationed near the Normal School and also reportedly attacked a civilian bus carrying students and relatives of the 43 missing students, bound for Chilpancingo in Tixtla, Guerrero; this unprovoked attack left several people grievously injured.

The civil organizations on 2nd June also reported the arrival of military tanks and fully armed contingents in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan. So far the current Mexican government has behaved like a military state using the path of intimidation, oppression and torture to resolve public issues and to suppress any conflict or voice of dissent. People have been baselessly arrested, persecuted and inhumanly tortured as revealed by Juan Mendez, in his report published in December 2014 which paints a grim picture of innocent civilians and peaceful protesters being inhumanly treated and put through misery in Mexico at the hands of the state machinery.

In the background of the atrocities, repression and the policy of criminalisation of social protest by the Mexican government, the undersigned organizations through this letter express our grave concern about the anti-democratic measures, oppression, torture and killings that may be carried out by the Mexican government in the context of maintaining order during the elections scheduled on Sunday June 7, 2015. We also demand an immediate end to the abuse of public power and strict compliance with the constitution. Most importantly, we call upon the international community to pay heed and attention to this humanitarian crisis in the making, be wary of these developments and vociferously condemn any act of oppression by any group linked to the Mexican government.


Committee for Human Rights in Latin America – 514-358-2227 –


Centro de medios libres. “3 de junio ALERTA AYOTZINAPA: Continua y arrecia el sitio y represión federal a escuela normal Isidro Burgos”. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Elecciones en México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015. .

Proceso. “Elecciones 2015, el sello de la violencia”. 2 de junio del 2015.  Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Proceso. “Con Peña Nieto, 13 desaparecidos al día”. 7 de febrero del 2015. Fecha de consulta: 3 de junio del 2015.

Regeneración Radio. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.

Informe México. Consulté le: 3 juin 2015.



BC Teachers’ Federation

Carrefour international bas-laurentien pour l’engagement social (CIBLES)

Cambridge Mexico Solidarity (Unites States)

Immigrant Workers’ Centre

Coalition québécoise sur les impacts socio-environnementaux des transnationales en Amérique latine

CoDevelopment Canada

Colectivo de Inmigrantes Españoles en Montréal- CIEM

Committee for Human Rights in Latin America

Comité de solidaridad quebequense con Ayotzinapa

Commons Frontiers

Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca-Vancouver

Costureras de sueños-Montréal

Groupe de recherche sur les espaces publics et les innovations politiques de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (GRÉPIP)

Québec Solidaire

Mexicans United for Regularization

Ligue des droits et libertés


MiningWatch Canada

Temporary Agency Workers Association (TAWA)

The Artists’Bloc of the IWC
Sussex Mexico Solidarity (England)



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



***Saturday February 28, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.***


For the past five weeks, the Artists’ Bloc of the IWC has been in residency and in creative conversations with the communities around the Plaza Côte-des-Neiges and the experiences of immigration in Montreal.

This research-creation has led to interventions around stories of migration, temporary agency workers and their organizing struggles, and the conditions of detention and deportations in Canada.

Please come join us for our fifth and final week of this artistic collaboration in and around the Plaza – to share in our creative research project for 2015, and to sustain our future networks from here. The IWC Artists’ Bloc residency-creation.



Wednesdays 17:30 a 19:00hrs au #IWC 4755 Van Horne, Office #110 (Metro Plamondon).

more info



The Coalition Against Precarious Work IS NOT Meeting with the Minister of Labour, Sam Hamad


Where: 1010 Saint-Catherine West

When: 4pm, February 23rd 2015


An official public request was made on September 25th, 2014 by the members of the Coalition Against Precarious Work to have a meeting with the Minister of Labour, Sam Hamad, which has been scheduled for today, February 23rd, 2015.


Initially, we asked to meet the Minister to discuss the precarious working conditions in Quebec. After waiting several weeks, we were offered a meeting in Quebec City only several days in advance of the proposed date. We were not able to gather members to attend on such short notice; as well, our Coalition is based in Montreal, therefore we asked for the meeting to be held in Montreal. Finally, we confirmed a meeting with 7 representatives from the Coalition and the Minister to take place in Montreal. We asked for the meeting to be held in the evening, so that many of our working members would be able to participate. The meeting scheduled several weeks ago was to be held on February 23rd at 3:00PM. However, last week (on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015), we were asked to only have 4 Coalition representatives at the meeting with the Minister, and that this number was non-negotiable; this added to our frustration with the Minister. Four days before the scheduled meeting, the Minister once again acted in bad faith and changed the meeting time to 9:30AM, which again was non-negotiable.


We believe this to be a blatant lack of respect by the Minister towards the members of our organization, and clearly displays how he does not care about the precarious situation of workers in Quebec.


Despite his disrespectful nature, we were ready to put aside our differences, collaborate with the Minister’s requests, and take the opportunity to meet with the Minister and understand his concerns; yet, the disrespectful nature in which we have been treated in these past few days shows us that the Minister clearly has no intention on listening to the most precarious workers in Quebec. It is unacceptable that the meeting time and restrictions that were confirmed upon by both parties were changed at the last minute without with Coalitions consent.


We have come here today in front of the Minister’s office to show him our aggravation and frustration, and to publicly demonstrate that the Minister does not care about the working conditions of the Quebec population. The Minister cannot ignore us; we represent a growing part of Quebec’s workforce and we contribute to the Quebec economy just the same!

We are also taking the opportunity to publicly state our demands regarding the precarious working conditions in Quebec:


1) An increase of the minimum wage, higher than a subsistence wage, to a salary of $15/hour, so that workers can fulfill their needs and provide for their families.

2) Ensure universal access to health services, social services and labour rights, regardless of immigration status.

3) Ensure codified and enforced regulation and oversight of temporary placement and recruitment agencies and their client companies, and facilitate the complaints system for abused workers.

4) End discrimination against domestic workers by allowing them full access to CSST rights.

5) Open the application for permanent residence program under the “Quebec Experience Program” to all sub-programs of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.


*** The Coalition is composed of 7 founding organizations: The Temporary Agency Workers Association (TAWA), The Temporary Foreign Workers Association (TFWA), PINAY, the Immigrant Workers Center, Dignidad Migrante, Mexicans United for Regularisation (MUR), and the Spanish Immigrants Collective of Montreal. Many community organizations and unions have joined to support the Coalition as well. ***

IWC (514) 342-2111





Artistic Residency at the Plaza Côte-des-Neiges:

 Montreal February 3, 2015 – From January 25 to February 28, unit 138 at the Plaza Côte-des-Neiges will house the residency of a collective of immigrant artist-activists, The Artists’Bloc of the IWC (Immigrant Workers Center). Hosted by a project created by the theatre group Projet MÛ, they invite everyone to join them while they’ll be working and doing research for their artistic project Migrant Memory, Living Memory in the opening hours of the residency space, or for their free activities and workshops. Anyone is welcome to meet them in the space and get to know more about their artistic vision, and take part in their creations. Follow their facebook page for upcoming activities.

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.




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.


And more activities to come!


WHEN :                        January 25 to February 28, Saturdays 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.


LOCATION :                             Unit 138, Plaza Côte-des-Neiges, 6700 Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges


For information: