Sunday, July 12, 2009

Migrant Farmworkers In Quebec

Noé Arteaga is living in a Montreal apartment while he waits for his complaint against a Shawinigan-area farm to be heard. He is one of about 6,600 migrant workers who come to Quebec every summer. Photograph by: Marcos Townsend, The Gazette

'Disposable' Workers, Far From Home -- The Montreal Gazette

Guatemalans can make a year's wages in one summer on a Quebec farm, but who is looking out for their interests? Four months into his contract picking tomatoes near Shawinigan, Noé Arteaga was making as much money as the mayor of his home town in Guatemala - almost as much as the local thugs working for the drug cartels.

But his plans to go back to school or build a house with his savings, after a season of honest work in the fields and greenhouses of Quebec, came tumbling down when one of his co-workers got sick.

Another farmhand working for Savoura at its high-tech facility in St. Étienne des Grès wasn't adapting so well to the life of a modern migrant worker.

A combination of long hours working with pesticides, taking too many energy drinks to keep up the pace, and a severe case of homesickness as he shared an apartment with five other men, hit Osvaldo Otoniel hard.

Read more ....

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