SHERBROOKE, Que. – The growth in precarious employment and a huge expansion of the federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) are at the top of the agenda for 500 members of the United Steelworkers union (Syndicat des Métallos) from across Quebec who are gathering this week in Sherbrooke for their 59th annual conference.
The three-day conference begins Wednesday, Nov. 22, at the Sherbrooke Conference Centre, and continues through Friday, Nov. 24.
“The Temporary Foreign Worker Program is now bringing eight times more temporary foreign workers to the country than it did in 2017,” states a release from the Quebec Steelworkers, which is the province’s largest private-sector union.
“These workers are subjected to closed work permits that confine them to a single employer, while their access to permanent immigration is retricted and particularly complex. We will examine the conditions faced by these workers, the welcome they should receive in our unions and workplaces, and the changes governments need to make to improve the TFWP in order to prevent the labour market from becoming more precarious.”
Dominic Lemieux, the Steelworkers union’s Quebec Director, will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.
On Thursday, guest speakers will include Kateri Champagne Jourdain, Quebec’s Minister of Employment and Minister Responsible for the North Shore Region; economist Daye Diallo of the Institut du Québec, who will discuss the impacts of demographics and migration on the labour market: and Quebec Federation of Labour President Magali Picard.
Thursday’s agenda also includes a round-table discussion featuring journalist Sarah R. Champagne of Le Devoir; Michel Pilon, Director of the Réseau d’aide aux travailleuses et travailleurs migrants agricoles du Québec (Quebec migrant workers support network); and Ronald Carvajal, a Steelworkers’ union member who came to Quebec a decade ago as a temporary foreign worker.
Friday’s agenda includes an update on the massive campaign by Quebec’s public-sector workers for better working conditions and services, from Éric Gingras, President of the Centrale des syndicats du Québec. Also on Friday, delegates will hear from economist François Delorme on the actions that can be taken in workplaces to take the lead on climate change.
Steelworkers Quebec Director Dominic Lemieux will hold a press briefing at the close of proceedings on Friday, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
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