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






Solidarity Across Borders declares June 2016 a “Month Against Deportations.”

In the context of ongoing struggles for justice and dignity for all migrants, refugees and undocumented people, Solidarity Across Borders and allies are organizing actions throughout the month of June to publicly denounce the violence, racism and oppression of border controls, and their daily impact on tens of thousands of people in Montreal.

This summer we will amplify our voices as community members, lovers and fighters, with public art projects, demonstrations, community meals, and a variety of activities in fierce resistance to colonial borders and economies built on the deportation of certain people.

We invite you to join us this June, and into the future!
Not one more deportation! Down with colonial borders!

Schedule of events ::

★ Saturday June 4th @1pm: Borders are bonkers, theatre action
★ Saturday June 4th @7pm
(location to be announced): Demo and block party with le Collectif de résistance antiraciste
Saturday June 11th from 8am to 6pm: Picnic and soccer tournament with Antiracist Soccer  []

★ Monday le 13 juin @18h: atelier ” FILM Audiotorie”

★ Tuesday June 14th @6:30pm, QPIRG Concordia (1500 de maisonneuve Ouest, room 204): “Building a Solidarity City” workshop
★ Thursday June 16th, evening in Parc Jarry: Film screening with Cinema Politica
★ Monday June 20th @6:30pm, QPIRG Concordia:
workshop for new members of Solidarity Across Borders
★ Saturday & Sunday June 24&25
(location & times to be announced): Party and mural painting!

Over the past decade, deeply racist and Islamophobic border controls have strengthened. These border controls fortify the “Global North” in order to manage the migration of people from the “Global South”, who are only permitted entry if they can contribute to the destructive advancement of Canadian capitalism, or be exploited under it. Extending its power through imperialism and colonial occupation of Indigenous land, the Canadian state uses these border controls to assure that the majority of those who migrate to Canada live and work in precarity.

As we fight this reality, we want to celebrate the inspiring struggles that have taken place this past year against racism and exploitation, by migrants here in Montreal and around the world.
We have taken to the streets under the banner of ‘Refugees Welcome’ along with others across the world, as the “migrant crisis” was spotlighted within global mainstream consciousness. We know that this crisis is nothing new, although we also know that there has been a notable increase in deaths, by the thousands, this past year, as a direct result of increased border militarization.
Here in Montreal, we have seen the inspiring mobilization of the Haitian community in a collective fight against deportations, following the lifting of the moratorium on deportations to Haiti and Zimbabwe, with the Non-Status Action Committee.
We have seen the Non Status Women’s Collective in Montreal courageously denounce their conditions of oppression and exploitation, demanding status for all. These non-status women have spoken about living their everyday lives as if hidden under a mask, invisible, and struggling for a life of dignity, security and peace. Non status people continue to live in precarity in the shadows of our society.

As we celebrate resistance in our communities, we also want to mourn those who lives were stolen while in the custody of immigration and border authorities.
Since the year 2000, 14 people have died in Canada Border Services Agency custody. Most recently, Francisco Javier Romero Astorga died while being detained at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ontario, in March 2016.
This is part of a larger struggle against police violence and anti-Black racism, which has seen the mobilizing, in Montreal, of Montreal Nord Republic and Montreal Noir, following the death of Jean-Pierre Bony by Montreal police in April 2016.

We know that struggles against immigration controls, for justice and dignity, are fought by thousands of people in our city, in our communities, often in isolation, and we want to honour those individuals and families for whom courageous resistance is part of daily life.

In confronting and actively fighting the systemic racism inherent in Canada’s exploitative immigration regime, and its oppressive foundations in capitalism and ongoing colonialism, we aspire towards strengthening our networks of solidarity and mutual aid, to counter this reality, here in Montreal.
Join us!



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



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.




***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



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.



Journal 2
“La Voix des Migrant(e)s” is a trilingual (English, French and Spanish) newspaper produced by the Temporary Agency Workers Association (TAWA). The newspaper was created to reflect the work of the association. We wanted to share the struggles that temporary agency workers face and the campaigns the association is organizing.

In this issue we wanted to share the most recent news affecting temporary agency workers, as well as temporary foreign workers. We have articles that explain why temporary employment agencies are taking away rights that workers used to have, such as employment security and the right to unionize (see page 6). We have an article that explains your rights as a worker (page 7).

This year, the Temporary Agency Workers Association has carried out its first two general assemblies and has elected a coordinating committee. We have also launched a campaign to force employers to pay for the work boots of their workers (see page 9).

The Temporary Agency Workers Association is not the only association that has been fighting for agency workers’ rights. On page 11 is an article about different workers’ centers in California, Chicago and Toronto. The workers’ center in Toronto recently began a campaign to raise the minimum wage (see page 10).

The Temporary Agency Workers Association has joined the Coalition against precarious work to fight alongside other organizations to improve the conditions of all workers with precarious jobs. In this light, we have asked other organizations from the coalition to share their struggles. We have asked ATTET (the Association of Temporary Foreign Workers) and PINAY (Organization of Philippine Women in Quebec) to tell us about the changes contained in the Bill 8 and recent changes to the live-in caregiver program (see page 16 and 19).

We hope that you will find the articles interesting and useful. And we hope that you will consider joining ATTAP. The only way we can improve our working and living conditions is by organizing and forcing the government to listen to us and to make changes such as raising the minimum wage.