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European Public Law Series / Bibliothèque de Droit Public Européen, vol. CXXV
The day started as any other for a group of Jamaican migrant
farmworkers employed at a vegetable farm in Ontario, Canada.
Like many of the thousands of migrant agricultural workers in the
region, they woke up early in their bunkhouses to a crisp autumn
day, when fields come alive with mature crops, and workers can
spend in excess of 13 hours a day bending, pulling, lifting and
packing to ensure that the precious harvest is gathered in time.
Around dusk, when their work ended for the day, they left the farm
on their bicycles to ride into town to call their families back home.
Two of them never made it back.
* Associate Professor, School of International Policy and Governance,
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
** Associate Professor, Department of Community Health, Wilfrid
Laurier University, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
*** Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of
Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
1 Equal authorship.
2 This vignette, chronicling a true story, is adapted from MCLAUGHLIN
(2009). Trouble in our fields: health and human rights among Mexican
and Caribbean migrant farm workers in Canada (Doctoral dissertation,
University of Toronto Anthropology).
352 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
On the long, straight stretch of highway that led between their
farm and the small town of Delhi, three of the workers were hit
from behind by a young local resident in a speeding car. Two of the
cyclists, William Bell and Desmond McNeil, were pronounced dead
at hospital. A third was seriously injured. Some media and officials
portrayed the incident as an unfortunate accident for which work-
ers own actions and even their dark skin and clothes against the
night sky were partly to blame. A closer examination of their un-
timely deaths points to a broader system of exclusion and exploita-
tion that renders migrant agricultural workers vulnerable to harm
both on and off the job in Canada.
The farm that employed Bell and McNeil is notorious for its poor
treatment of workers. Family members of the deceased, past em-
ployees at the farm, and even other local residents all point out ex-
ploitative and even abusive conditions under which employees
work. The workers live in overcrowded, run-down bunkhouses and
are not provided with any access to a phone or safe method of
transportation. They work exceptionally long days, and by the time
they finish working, it is often dark. In order to call their families,
to purchase items or even to socialize, they have little choice but to
ride poorly-equipped second-hand bikes along the dark highway
into town.
As the son of the late William Bell, Junior Bell explains, After
working a long day, my dad had to bike into town just to call my
family back home. My father had been coming [to Canada] for 12
years. There were 10 of us in the house in Jamaica and my father
was the only one with a good job. He spent his whole life dedicated
to us. Now theres no one to support my family in Jamaica and I lost
the best dad a man could ever ask for. Bell says that this accident
could have been avoided if there had been an accessible phone at
the farm where his father worked, or if the workers there had safe
means of transportation to access the necessities of life.
While other workers were quickly flown in from Jamaica to re-
place the two who died, the impacts on this large family, left with-
out a breadwinner and father, are everlasting.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 353
Azizas mother was one of the founding members of the Coopé-
rative Féminine dHuile dArgan in a small village called Azro, a
red clay community seemingly etched into the foot of the Atlas
Mountains in Al Haouz Province of the Marrakesh-Safi region of
Morocco. Though the cooperative allows her mother to support
their family and stay in the community, it has not been enough to
support Azizas own family of three. Without other options for em-
ployment in this rural area, and without a high school diploma,
Aziza sought out support from the Agence Nationale de Promotion
de lEmploi et des Compétences in Morocco. After finally getting
her husband to agree to provide a signature for the application, she
was offered a placement in the agricultural labour program that
sends workers to Spain. Three years have passed since she began
working in Spains burgeoning strawberry farms. Each summer, she
is separated from her children. Each summer, she is separated from
the group of women pounding and blending argan seeds into fra-
grant creams and soaps - often ironically scented with jasmine and
strawberries - to sell to tourists on the road to Marrakech. But this
summer is different. Aziza is pregnant. When she arrived in Huelva
time for the harvest peak, her loose Djellaba concealing her mid-
section, she worked quickly in order to make as much money as
possible in those first few months. The clock was ticking, and she
would have to tell her employer soon. And this would mean she
could not expect to continue working or staying in Spain. But things
quickly changed for Aziza one afternoon when she was bent over in
the hot sun picking strawberries in her employers expansive farm.
Buckling over with the pain of the cramps, she nearly fainted on the
spot. Her fellow worker, a woman a decade older than her 28
years, came to her side and helped her to her feet. They both saw
the blood, and instantly knew. After the hospital, Azizas return
travel to Morocco was arranged, and she was en route to Azro
3 We use a pseudonym for the vignette on Aziza. It is based on a com-
posite of data from multiple migrant farm workers from Morocco gathered
through ongoing interviews carried out between 2017-2019.
354 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
within the week. But it was the last place she wanted to go. Her
husband did not know of the pregnancy when she left, and she
doubted he would believe her now. Reflecting back, she says, I
thought I would be shamed. I would lose everything. What was I
supposed to do? Aziza never had the chance to find out. She lost
the pregnancy later that month while staying with her aunt in an-
other city. She says that losing the pregnancy then had been a
blessing of sorts: At least I could keep it a secret.
THE two preceding vignettes offer a glimpse into the myriad path-
ways and life circumstances that shape peoples experiences mov-
ing across borders as seasonal migrant farm workers. Migrant agri-
cultural workers usually make the difficult decision to leave their
loved ones for extended periods because they want to create a life
of dignity for themselves and their families. Even if the farm job
contracts are coercive and dangerous, migrants often evaluate them
favourably against the backdrop of poverty and unemployment in
their communities of origin4. The concept of flexicurity describes
the conditions of shattered social bonds and economic instability
that lead workers to accept high levels of individualized risk in pur-
suit of a fleeting sliver of security5. A political-economic analysis
of agricultural migration programs lays the groundwork for under-
standing how agrarian change and capitalist globalization structure
workers individual choices and experiences6.
4 BINFORD, L. (2013). Tomorrow were all going to the harvest: Tempo-
rary foreign worker programs and neoliberal political economy. Austin,
TX: University of Texas Press.
5 GERTEL, J. / SIPPEL, S. R. (Eds.). (2014). Seasonal Workers in Medi-
terranean Agriculture. New York: Routledge.
A. (1998). Worlds in Motion: Understanding International Migration at
the End of the Millennium: Understanding International Migration at the
End of the Millennium. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 355
In this chapter, we draw on case studies of two distinct sending
and receiving contexts: Mexican and Caribbean workers in Canada,
and Moroccan workers in Spain. Our findings are informed by pol-
icy analysis and qualitative research studies with migrant workers
and their families by all three authors in the Canadian context, as
well as the Mexican context by McLaughlin and Hennebry, the Ja-
maican context by McLaughlin, and the Moroccan-Spanish context
by Hennebry. We begin by reviewing trends and debates in agri-
cultural labour migration programs globally, and then in both of our
case study locations, specifically. After describing the history and
functioning of agricultural labour migration schemes in the two
contexts, we compare along three core themes: (1) family reunifica-
tion and gender issues; (2) labour and human rights; and (3) health
and social protections. Canada and Spains migrant worker schemes
diverge on certain outcomes, particularly with regard to workforce
gender stereotypes, yet these stereotypes both reinforce gender
discrimination. Overall, however, similarities in their premises and
structures have led to markedly similar outcomes for workers7.
While such migration schemes provide a hyper-flexible and deport-
able labour force to optimize agricultural production, the needs and
rights of migrant workers and their families remain neglected.
Seasonal agricultural labour migration schemes are not new; they
have been in place in some countries for well over half a century8.
Labour migration schemes allow farm operators to hire workers
from parts of the globe with less affluence and social stability on
temporary contracts, and they are often adopted in response to lob-
bying from farmers who report seasonal labour shortages. Such
shortages do not always reflect an absolute lack of domestic work-
7 MCLAUGHLIN, J. / WEILER, A. M. (2017). Migrant Agricultural Work-
ers in Local and Global Contexts: Toward a Better Life?. Journal of
Agrarian Change, 17(3), 630-638.
8 CASTLES, S. (2006). Guestworkers in Europe: A resurrection?. Interna-
tional migration review, 40(4), 741-766.
356 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
ers seeking employment9. Work permits are often tied to employ-
ers, meaning that workers cannot easily change jobs without for-
feiting their migration status10. When agricultural employment is
designed in a way that violates many of the International Labour
Organizations criteria for decent work11, people within migrant re-
ceiving countries who have viable alternatives tend to decline farm
Compared to undocumented migration pathways, formalized or
managed labour migration programs that are couched in the lan-
guage of protection allow governments greater control over mi-
grants12. It is often these very structures of management, such as
employer-tied visas, that are the cause of migrants vulnerability,
including gendered forms of oppression and violence13. Seasonal
workers can slip between various types of precarious immigration
9 HENNEBRY, J. L. / PREIBISCH, K. (2010). A Model for Managed Migra-
tion? Re-Examining Best Practices in Canadas Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Program. International Migration, 50(S1), e19-e40.
10 PETROU, K. / CONNELL, J. (2018). We dont feel free at all: tempo-
rary ni-Vanuatu workers in the Riverina, Australia. Rural Society, 27(1),
66-79; SMITH-NONINI, S. (2013). Seeing no evil: The H2A guest-worker
program and state-mediated labor exploitation in rural North Carolina. In:
L. ALLEGRO / A. WOOD (Eds.), Latin American Migrations to the U.S.
Heartland Changing Social Landscapes in Middle America (pp. 101-124).
Urbana, IL.
11 ILO. (2013). Decent work indicators: Guidelines for producers and
users of statistical and legal framework indicators. Retrieved May 3, 2018,
12 ANDERSON, B. (2012). Wheres the harm in that? Immigration en-
forcement, trafficking, and the protection of migrants rights. American
Behavioral Scientist, 56(9), 1241-1257.
13 ABJI, S. (2016). Because Deportation is Violence against Women:
On the Politics of State Responsibility and Womens Human Rights. So-
cial Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 23(4), 483-
507; COHEN, A. / CAXAJ, S. (2018). Bodies and borders: Migrant women
farmworkers and the struggle for sexual and reproductive justice in British
Columbia, Canada. Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Re-
search, 29, 90-117.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 357
status14, and researchers have underscored continuities between for-
mal labour migration streams, informal streams, and the criminali-
zation of migration15. In addition to ties between immigration re-
gimes and carceral complexes, formal migrant worker programs are
often entangled with private interest groups or labour recruiters who
may coerce workers16.
Despite the risks migrant workers undertake, institutions such as
the World Bank17 have lauded migrant remittances as an instrument
to promote development in workers countries of origin. Though
remittances may substantively benefit individual nuclear house-
holds, this universal model of development can clash with cultur-
ally-specific ideas of development that prioritize well-being and co-
existence for the sending community as a whole18. In some cases,
14 GOLDRING, L. / LANDOLT, P. (2012). The impact of precarious legal
status on immigrants economic outcomes. Retrieved April 17, 2018, from
15 KAUR, A. (2010). Labour migration in Southeast Asia: migration
policies, labour exploitation and regulation. Journal of the Asia Pacific
Economy, 15(1), 6-19.
MCLAUGHLIN, J. / HENNEBRY, J. (2013). Pathways to precarity: Struc-
tural vulnerabilities and lived consequences in the everyday lives of mi-
grant farmworkers in Canada. In: L. GOLDRING / P. LANDOLT (Eds.), Pro-
ducing and negotiating non-citizenship: Precarious legal status in Canada
(pp. 175-194). Toronto.
16 CORRADO, A. / DE CASTRO, C. / PERROTTA, D. (2017). Migration and
Agriculture: Mobility and change in the Mediterranean area. Abingdon,
Oxon and NY: Routledge.
FARADAY, F. (2014, April). Profiting from the precarious: How recruit-
ment practices exploit migrant workers. Retrieved June 29, 2015, from
17 World Bank. (2018, March 25). Maximizing the Development
Impacts from Temporary Migration: Recommendations for Australias
Seasonal Worker Programme. Retrieved April 2, 2018, from
18 SMITH, R. E. (2018). Changing Standards of Living: The Paradoxes of
Building a Good Life in Rural Vanuatu. In: C. GREGORY / J. ALTMAN
358 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
the benefits of poverty alleviation from labour migration are short-
lived19. Further, some scholars contend that the promise of remit-
tances-as-development downplays the costs of migration, such as
the consequences of separating migrants from their families for
months or years at a time, and that it ignores the realities of in-
creased dependence on remittances20. Further, labour migration as a
form of development deemphasizes the economic benefits host so-
cieties derive from migrants, while depoliticizing the root causes of
migration that are fundamental to contemporary capitalist global-
The expansion of migrant agricultural worker programs is tied to
the consolidation of ownership across food supply chains22. Over
the past 30 years, agri-food chains have become dominated by a
concentrated number of food retailers. Retailers pressure farmers to
produce at low prices, high volumes, and for just-in-time markets,
while input suppliers such as monopolistic seed companies can en-
(Eds.), The Quest for the Good Life in Precarious Times: Ethnographic
Perspectives on the Domestic Moral Economy (pp. 33-55). Canberra,
19 WELLS, D. / MCLAUGHLIN, J. / LYN, A. (2014). Sustaining Precarious
Transnational Families: The Significance of Remittances from Canadas
Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. Just Labour.
20 HENNEBRY, J. / HOLLIDAY, J. / MONIRUZZAMAN, M. (2017). At what
cost? Women Migrant Workers, Remittances and Development. New
York: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of
Women (UN Women).
A. / VASILEVSKA, B. (2017). Temporary Workers, Temporary Fathers:
Transnational Family Impacts of Canadas Seasonal Agricultural Worker
Program. Industrial Relations, 72(4), 682-709.
WELLS et al., 2014, ibid.
21 DELGADO WISE, R. (2018). On the Theory and Practice of Migration
and Development: A Southern Perspective. Journal of Intercultural Stud-
ies, 39(2), 163-181.
22 ROGALY, B. (2008). Intensification of workplace regimes in British
horticulture: the role of migrant workers. Population, Space and Place,
14(6), 497-510.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 359
trench high costs23. Many farm operators have responded to the
cost-price squeeze by scaling up and shifting toward non-local
waged labour - evidence of flexiprofity as employers aim to se-
cure short-term profits amidst economic volatility by offloading
costs onto workers24. This trend is evident in the growth of indus-
trial-scale, export-oriented Mediterranean enclaves of fresh fruit
and vegetable production, which depend heavily on migrant work-
ers25. Any small and medium-scale family farms have tried to re-
main competitive by hiring migrant workers26. In short, the growth
of lucrative global markets for high-quality fresh food has been en-
abled by constructing migrant labour forces as flexible, deportable,
with weak bargaining power, and under immense productivity pres-
Canadas Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) was
initiated in 1966 as a pilot to hire workers from Jamaica. Since
then, the SAWP has expanded to include other Commonwealth
Caribbean states and Mexico through bilateral agreements. Mexico
is now the leading participant country, and researchers estimate that
under five percent of participants are women27. Employers drive the
23 CORRADO, A. (2017). Migrant crop pickers in Italy and Spain.
Heinrich Böll Foundation, June.
24 GERTEL / SIPPEL, 2014, ibid.
25 CORRADO et al., 2017, ibid.
26 CORRADO et al., 2017, ibid; WEILER, A. M. / OTERO, G. / WITTMAN,
H. (2016). Rock Stars and Bad Apples: Moral Economies of Alternative
Food Networks and Precarious Farm Work Regimes. Antipode, 48(4), 1-
27 MCLAUGHLIN et al., 2017, ibid. Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión
Social (STyPS) (Ministry of Labour and Social Security) (2017)
Dirección de Movilidad Laboral de la Secretaria del Trabajo y Previsión
Social. Programa de Trabajadores Agrícolas Temporales, Mexico City
(personal communication), PREIBISCH, K.L. / ENCALADA GREZ, E., 2010.
360 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
demand for the SAWP while the Canadian, Mexican and Caribbean
federal governments administer the program. After successfully
completing a Labour Market Impact Assessment showing they were
unable to hire local workers, farm operators may hire migrant
workers for up to eight months per year. Sending-country
governments carry out recruitment by advertising, screening and
selecting workers. Among their selection criteria are physical
fitness, lower levels of education, aptitude for and experience with
agricultural work, and ties to the home country, including familial
responsibilities (e.g. parenting) to lessen the likelihood of visa
overstay28. If any conflicts arise between workers and employers, a
sending-country Consulate or Liaison officer stationed in Canada is
responsible for interceding.
In 2015, approximately 50,000 agricultural workers were hired
through all streams of the overarching Temporary Foreign Worker
Program (TFWP), of which roughly 80% were through the
SAWP29. While the stated purpose of the TFWP is as a last resort
The other side of el otro lado: Mexican migrant women and labour flex-
ibility in Canadian agriculture. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and
Society, 35(2), pp.289-316; COHEN, A. / CAXAJ, S. (2018). Bodies and bor-
ders: migrant women farmworkers and the struggle for sexual and repro-
ductive justice in British Columbia, Canada. Alternate Routes: A Journal
of Critical Social Research, 29; HENNEBRY, J. 2017. For their own good?:
Addressing Exploitation of Women Migrant Workers, International Or-
ganization for Migration (IOM), Geneva.
28 MCLAUGHLIN, J. (2010). Classifying the ideal migrant worker:
Mexican and Jamaican transnational farmworkers in Canada. Focaal,
2010(57), 79-94.
29 The SAWP is now one component of Canadas overarching Tempo-
rary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). In 2002, the federal government
introduced additional streams of the TFWP that allow farm employers to
hire workers for up to 24 months per contract from any country in the
world. These non-SAWP streams do not involve bilateral agreements or
sending-country representatives to advocate for them in Canada. They also
depend more heavily on non-state agencies such as private recruiters
(Faraday, 2014, ibid.). This expansion has intensified competition for jobs
between workers of various countries. ESDC. (2016). Annual Labour Mar-
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 361
for employers to fill jobs for which qualified Canadians are not
available30, the SAWP has evidently become a central, long-term
business strategy for Canadian agricultural employers and continues
to expand, with a steady rise of workers from 1966 to the present31.
Most SAWP migrants will return annually; one survey conducted
on behalf of a growers organization found over 40 percent partici-
pated in the SAWP for more than 20 years32.
There are some clear similarities between the SAWP and the
Moroccan-Spain scheme, including their bilaterally governed struc-
tures, recruitment mechanisms, duration, employer control, and nu-
merous other features. Whereas Canadian agriculture has been
made possible through ongoing settler colonialism, labour migra-
tion dynamics between Morocco and Spain are shaped by the
history of Spanish (and French) imperialism. Before 1991, Moroc-
cans commonly engaged in informal circular migration between
Morocco and Spain for seasonal farm work that was not officially
sanctioned or facilitated by governments but was de facto permit-
ted. Border security regimes and EU immigration controls subse-
ket Impact Assessment Statistics 2008-2015: Primary Agriculture Stream.
Retrieved September 22, 2017, from
30 Government of Canada. (2015). Overhauling the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program: Putting Canadians First. Retrieved May 5, 2018, from
31 HENNEBRY, J. / MCLAUGHLIN, J. (2013). The Exception that Proves
the Rule: Structural Vulnerability, Health Risks and Consequences for
Temporary Migrant Farmworkers in Canada. In: CHRISTINE STRAEHLE /
PATTI LENARD (eds.), Legislating Inequality: Canadas Temporary Mi-
grant Worker Program (pp. 117-138). McGill-Queens University Press.
32 CAHRC [Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council]. (2017,
December). A review of Canadas Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program:
362 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
quently made this mobility illegal and irregular. What was once
relatively open circular labour migration with Spain became ar-
ticulated as irregular migration in the post-EU context - thus creat-
ing a demand for managed regular labour migration. However,
there are estimates of roughly 200,000 Moroccans working in Span-
ish agriculture, many immigrants, and many of whom do not have
status33. Since 1992, Morocco has been the main country of origin
for agricultural labour migration in France and Spain.
In the post-EU context, Morocco and Spain established bilateral
agreements to facilitate continued seasonal agricultural migration.
They stipulated that the Spanish Embassy and Moroccan authorities
would oversee recruitment and the allocation of work permits34.
The 2001 Agreement between Spain and Morocco Regulating Tem-
porary Migrant Workers formalized hiring practices so that em-
ployers can nominate employees that they wish to have returned to
work for them in Spain in a following season. In 2010, the Founda-
tion for Foreign Workers in Huelva, Spain (FUTEH) and ANAPEC
(Agence nationale de promotion de lemploi et des compétences or
National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills)
signed a Convention to continue organizing the circular migration
of seasonal workers between Morocco and the Huelva region spe-
cifically. Subsequent agreements outlined specific recruitment prac-
tices and other management aspects of the scheme. In Spain, legal
changes were implemented to allow employers to recruit nationals
from countries with a labour agreement (often putting workers from
Morocco, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, etc., in direct competition for
jobs) on condition that workers sign contracts in countries of origin
prior to entering Spain. Workers are recruited for harvest time and
must return to their country at the end of the seasonal contract (be-
tween three to nine months). The pre-selection of workers is carried
out by ANAPEC in the 360 poorest rural communities of Morocco,
and the majority of participants are women due to selection criteria
discussed below. Upon obtaining their contract, the workers sign a
return commitment and are then issued a temporary residence and
33 CORRADO et al., 2017, ibid.
34 OSCE, 2014, ibid.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 363
work permit valid for three to nine months for a specific geographi-
cal area and for a specific activity concentrated in strawberry
farms35. Typically over 10,000 workers are hired through the scheme
annually, the majority of whom are women36.
1. Family Reunification and Gender Issues
Providing economic support for family members is a core moti-
vation for migrant agricultural workers, and labour migration
schemes are designed in a way that capitalizes on these gendered
familial ties. In the Morocco-Spain context, particularly under the
Huelva agreement, officials primarily select married women mi-
grants who are mothers. Women migrants must secure the consent
of their male spouses to participate in the scheme37. Such feminized
selection procedures are also based on the perception that women
are docile, compliant workers with delicate hands suited for small
fruit38. With the enlargement of the EU in 2007, women from East-
ern European countries (Poland, Romania, Bulgaria) were replaced
by female workers recruited in rural Morocco, with the essential
35 International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) Importing
Workers, 2012. Exporting Strawberries Working Conditions on
Strawberry Farms in the Huelva Province (Spain). Retrieved from
36 ELOUAZI, S. (2017, December 12). Spain to Hire 7,000 Moroccan
Farm Workers for 2018. Morocco World News. Rabat. Retrieved from
37 HELLIO, E. (2014). We dont have women in boxes: Channelling sea-
sonal mobility of female farmworkers between Morocco and Andalusia.
In: J. GERTEL / S. R. SIPPEL (Eds.), Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean
Agriculture (pp. 141-155). New York: Routledge.
38 HELLIO, 2014; REIGADA, A. (2016). Family farms, migrant labourers
and regional imbalance in global agri-food systems. On the social
(un)sustainability of intensive strawberry production in Huelva (Spain),
In: A. CORRADO / C. DE CASTRO / D. PERROTTA (Eds.), Migration and
Agriculture: Mobility and change in the Mediterranean area (pp. 119-
134). London: Routledge.
364 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
prerequisite that these women had minor-age children to care for at
home39. Upon returning to their rural communities, many Moroccan
women workers face stigma and discrimination and are framed as
promiscuous and less virtuous because of their migration40.
Similar forms of gender discrimination and exploitation of famil-
ial ties are at play in the Canadian SAWP, but in this case mascu-
linity serves as the preferred marker of social difference for capital
accumulation. Employers in the SAWP determine the gender of
their workforce. For the first two decades of the program, only men
participated; since 1989 a small number of women have been re-
quested, primarily to work in delicate fruit and flower industries.
Sending country officials charged with recruiting workforces pref-
erentially select married men with dependents41. To a much lesser
degree, officials select single mothers. This highly masculinized
work context leaves womens needs and risks largely unconsidered.
For example, the women who participate lack control over their
mobility and are vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence42.
In both the Morocco-Spain scheme and the Canadian SAWP,
states have adopted the rationale that migration serves as a form of
development, with the assumption that migrants will send remit-
tances home and return to their countries of origin after their con-
tracts are complete to care for their children. Workers are not per-
mitted to migrate with their families in either Canada or Spain. Pro-
longed separation can take a painful toll on families, including
39 GONZALEZ-ENRIQUEZ, C. / REYNES RAMON, M. (2011). Circular Mi-
gration between Morocco and Spain-Something more than agricultural
work. METOIKOS Project, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Stud-
ies, Florence: European University Institute.
40 HELLIO, E. (2014). We dont have women in boxes: Channelling sea-
sonal mobility of female farmworkers between Morocco and Andalusia.
In: J. GERTEL / S. R. SIPPEL (Eds.), Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean
Agriculture (pp. 141-155). New York: Routledge.
41 PREIBISCH, K. / ENCALADA GREZ, E. (2013). Between hearts and
pockets: locating the outcomes of transnational homemaking practices
among Mexican women in Canadas temporary migration programmes.
Citizenship Studies, 17(6-7), 785-802.
42 COHEN / CAXAJ, 2018, ibid; PREIBISCH / ENCALADA GREZ, 2013, ibid.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 365
alienation between children and transnational parents, strained
spousal relations, and a double workload for non-migrating
women spouses43. Geographically severing workers from family
obligations makes workers more likely to consent to long, anti-
social and arduous hours. This productive/reproductive split is a
boon to growers44.
Long, repeated absences with limited communication options
(e.g. a lack of phones and internet on farms and migrant-sending
communities) contribute to profound strain on family relationships
and sometimes to family dissolution. Employers tend to disallow
mid-season visits where workers return to their families, and even
when permitted, such visits are cost-prohibitive for workers. This is
particularly difficult during celebrations, life events and crises (e.g.
births, deaths, graduations and weddings)45.
Although return migrants are separated from their families over
multiple seasons, the labour migration schemes in both contexts
thwart family reunification through permanent immigration. This is
true of the Morocco-Spain scheme, with few opportunities to obtain
permanent status, and if workers fail to return to Morocco and reg-
ister with Spanish border authorities upon exit, they can be barred
from the scheme and are considered illegal in Spain. Likewise,
Canadas SAWP does not offer a direct route to permanent immi-
gration. In rare cases, individual employers can nominate migrants
for permanent residency through competitive Provincial Nominee
Programs that allow provinces to select a small number of immi-
grants directly, or a Canadian resident family member can sponsor
43 HENNEBRY, J. L. (2014). Transnational Precarity: Womens Migration
Work and Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Migration. International Journal
of Sociology and Social Policy, 44(3), 42-59; MCLAUGHLIN et al., 2017,
44 PACIULAN, M. / PREIBISCH, K. (2014). Navigating the Productive/Re-
productive Split: Latin American Transnational Mothers and Fathers in
Canadas Temporary Migration Programs. Transnational Social Review,
3(2), 173-192.
45 MCLAUGHLIN et al., 2017, ibid.
366 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
them46. One survey found that over 50% of SAWP workers wished
to immigrate to Canada47, yet only 2% of SAWP workers between
1990 and 2014 obtained permanent residency after 10 years of par-
ticipation in the program48.
2. Labour and Human Rights
Categorizing migrant workers as non-citizens subjects them to a
distinct set of laws and practices that can undermine their human
and labour rights. Consequently, researchers have analyzed the
SAWP as a form of legalized unfreedom49. Employer-tied visas
mean that if workers experience workplace abuse, transferring to a
new employer is often challenging or impossible50. Living in em-
ployer-provided housing, which is often overcrowded, subjects
workers to a range of extra-legal practices such as employer sur-
veillance and bans on visitors51. Workers face numerous disincen-
tives to reporting labour violations, racism, workplace illness or in-
jury, and sexual violence. At any time, an employer may consult
with a sending-country representative to repatriate a worker. Mi-
grants also depend on employers for a positive end-of-season as-
sessment and to rehire them the subsequent season. One worker
46 LU, Y / HOU, F. (2017). Transition from Temporary Foreign Workers
to Permanent Residents, 1990 to 2014. Retrieved May 28, 2018, from
Statistics Canada:
47 HENNEBRY, J. / PREIBISCH, K. / MCLAUGHLIN, J. (2010). Health
across Borders: Health Status, Risks and Care among Transnational
Migrant Farm Workers in Ontario. CERIS Ontario Metropolis Centre.
Toronto, ON.
48 PROKOPENKO, E. / HOU, F. (2018, January 26). How Temporary Were
Canadas Temporary Foreign Workers? Retrieved May 5, 2018, from
49 SATZEWICH, V. (1991). Racism and the incorporation of foreign
labour: Farm labour migration to Canada since 1945. New York:
50 HENNEBRY / PREIBISCH, 2010, ibid.
51 COHEN / CAXAJ, 2018, ibid.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 367
summarizes the concerns of hundreds we interviewed: You have to
be there to do what the boss tells you…if you start to disobey him,
you will no longer return. For that reason one has to accept every-
thing. Although you know that it is not the correct thing or that they
are committing injustices against you, you have to allow it52.
The situation is similar in the case of Moroccan migrants in
Spain, where workers can receive work permits for up to nine
months a year. After the permit expires, they are required to return
to their country of origin. To certify their return, they have to reg-
ister at the Spanish consular office that issued their visa within one
month after it expired. Failing to do so will cause the refusal of later
applications for work permits under the scheme. On the other hand,
workers respecting these obligations will be given priority regard-
ing future job offers. Similar to the Canadian SAWP naming sys-
tem, employers can hire specific individuals again the following
year through hiring by name. When an individual worker is named,
they bypass having to go through the selection process anew, and
their contract will be with the previous employer. This further in-
creases employer power, heightening both workers precarity and
the likelihood of accepting unsafe or exploitative conditions. In
fact, employers often fail to comply with existing regulations and
agreements regarding seasonal work and will disregard labour
rights53. Moroccans in Spain (compared to Eastern European work-
ers such as Bulgarians) are particularly vulnerable to abuse and ex-
ploitation due to a confluence of factors such as gender and racial
discrimination, missing papers, insecure or precarious legal status,
and lower levels of formal education54.
In both Canada and Spain, employers are legally permitted to se-
lect workers on the basis of their nationality and gender. Racial and
52 MCLAUGHLIN, 2009, ibid.
53 CORRADO, 2017, ibid; HELLIO, 2016, ibid; REIGADA, 2016, ibid.
54 PUMARES, P. / JOLIVET, D. (2014). Origin matters: working conditions
of Moroccans and Romanians in the greenhouses of Almeria. In: J.
GERTEL / SIPPEL, S.R. (2014) (Eds.), Seasonal Workers in Mediterranean
Agriculture. The social cost of eating fresh. New York: Routledge, pp.
368 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
gender stereotypes may be used to coerce migrants into exemplify-
ing the ideal worker, while intensifying competition between
workers55. In the SAWP, competition also occurs at the level of
sending-country representatives, who face pressure to maintain
their countrys access to the program. They may therefore privilege
friendly relations with employers over workers rights56. In Ontario,
where most farm workers are employed, agricultural workers are
legally prohibited from obtaining union certification. In British
Columbia, where agricultural worker unionization is possible,
Mexican Consular officials were found to have legally blacklisted
Mexican SAWP workers perceived as union sympathizers57.
In Spain, Moroccan migrant workers face barriers to claiming
rights, such as low levels of education and literacy, and fear of loss
of current or future employment. This is particularly true for
women migrant workers who are predominantly from rural areas,
with high rates of illiteracy, and many only speaking the local Ara-
bic dialect (Darija) or Berber dialect (Tamazight). ANAPEC holds
pre-departure meetings for women specifically, to provide them
with very general information, but such meetings barely touch upon
rights in the workplace, working hours, wages, the right to join a
union, the right to holidays, national health insurance, etc.58.
55 HELLIO, 2016, ibid; MCLAUGHLIN, 2010, ibid; PREIBISCH, K. /
BINFORD, L. (2007). Interrogating Racialized Global Labour Supply: An
Exploration of the Racial / National Replaceme of Foreign Agricultural
Workers in Canada. Canadian Review of Sociology, 44(1), 5-36;
PREIBISCH, K. L. / ENCALADA GREZ, E. (2010). The Other Side of el Otro
Lado: Mexican Migrant Women and Labor Flexibility in Canadian Agri-
culture. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 35(2), 289-316.
56 BINFORD, 2013, ibid.
57 VOSKO, L. F. (2016). Blacklisting as a modality of deportability:
Mexicos response to circular migrant agricultural workers pursuit of col-
lective bargaining rights in British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Ethnic
and Migration Studies, 42(8), 1371-1387.
58 FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights). (2012). Importing
Workers, Exporting Strawberries: Working Conditions on Strawberry
Farms in the Huelva Province (Spain). Paris: FIDH.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 369
While legally entitled to join a union in Spain, workers often do
not realize collective bargaining rights. This is due to workers sea-
sonality (staying for a maximum of nine months) and the contrac-
tual nature of their work, which is typically mediated by labour
brokers. Brokers are often established migrants who recruit work-
ers, control and regulate working hours and wages, and ignore
hours and wages fixed by formal contracts. In many cases workers
are not even directly paid by employers, putting labour brokers and
subcontractors in powerful positions to exploit and profit from this
captive workforce. In Huelva, informal handlers/brokers (called
manijeros) and formal temporary employment agencies, called Em-
presas de trabajo temporal, play an important role, and their scope
of activities has been enlarged by labour law reforms enacted in
2010 and 201259. So far, labour conflicts in the Spanish agricultural
sector have been simply resolved by recruiting new workers
through such embedded intermediaries60.
Yet, in both Morocco and Canada workers have continued to en-
gage in collective action through so-called alt-labour farm worker
organizations and local grassroots initiatives such as Justice for Mi-
grant Workers in Canada61, along with the sporadic unionization of
migrant farm workers in parts of both Canada and Spain62. While
modest in scope, some family farmer organizations affiliated with
the food sovereignty movement have shown solidarity with farm
worker justice campaigns63.
59 CARUSO, F. S. (2018). Unionism of migrant farm workers. The Sindi-
cato Obreros del Campo (SOC) in Andalusia, Spain. In: Migration and
Agriculture: Mobility and change in the Mediterranean area (pp. 277-
292). Abingdon, Oxon and NY: Routledge.
60 HELLIO, 2016, ibid.
61 PERRY, J. A. (2018). Images of work, images of defiance: engaging
migrant farm worker voice through community-based arts. Agriculture
and Human Values, 36(3), 627-640.
62 CARUSO, 2018; DIAS-ABEY, M. (2018). Justice on Our Fields: Can
Alt-Labor Organizations Improve Migrant Farm Workers Conditions?
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 53, 1-46.
63 CORRADO et al., 2017, ibid; WEILER, A. M. / MCLAUGHLIN, J. / COLE,
D. C. (2017). Food security at whose expense? A critique of the Canadian
370 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
3. Health and Social Protections
The design of the SAWP magnifies the dangers of what is already
a high-risk industry. Agricultural labour presents myriad hazards,
including agrochemical and climatic exposures, musculoskeletal in-
jury from repetitive motion, awkward postures, lifting heavy loads,
and motor vehicle and machinery accidents64. Seventy-four per cent
of surveyed SAWP workers in British Columbia and 59 percent of
those surveyed in Ontario said they did not receive any health or
safety training or information at their principal worksite; linguistic
inaccessibility presents additional problems65. While workers le-
gally have the right to refuse unsafe work, in practice, many are un-
willing to do so for fear of losing their jobs66. Women face com-
pounded risks of harassment and sexual violence along with chal-
lenges to protecting their sexual and reproductive health67. In Spain,
Moroccan female migrant workers precarity and gender similarly
compound barriers to accessing reproductive health care. Because
they fear losing their positions, women migrants in both contexts
often feel pressure to hide pregnancies, forego prenatal care, plan
pregnancies around work seasons, and leave their newborns to
return to work68.
temporary farm labour migration regime and proposals for change.
International Migration, 55(4), 48-63.
64 MURPHY, D. J. / LEE, B. C. (2009). Critical issues facing agricultural
safety and health. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, 15(3), 203-
65 HENNEBRY, et al., 2010, ibid; PREIBISCH, K. / OTERO, G. (2014). Does
Citizenship Status Matter in Canadian Agriculture? Workplace Health and
Safety for Migrant and Immigrant Laborers. Rural Sociology, 79(2), 174-
66 MCLAUGHLIN, et al., 2014, ibid.
BARRETT-GREENE (2016). Needs and Risks in Sexual Health among Tem-
porary Foreign Migrant Farmworkers in Canada: A Pilot Study with Mexi-
can and Caribbean Workers. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health
18(2), 374-81.
68 HELLIO, 2014, ibid; MCLAUGHLIN, 2009, ibid.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 371
Alongside physical risks, migrant workers mental and emotional
health can be negatively affected by factors such as familial separa-
tion, workplace stress, and social isolation69. Local social workers
(referred to as intercultural mediators) in Spain have also pointed
to psycho-social distress among the Moroccan women due to family
separation and the burden of responsibility for remittance sending70.
Canadian employers are obligated to enroll migrant agricultural
workers in health care coverage throughout the duration of their
contracts. In practice, workers face extensive barriers to accessing
coverage. For example, hospitals or clinics frequently require work-
ers covered by private insurance to pay upfront, and employers
sometimes withhold health cards71. Employers mediating role in
health care is a major concern. Long work hours coupled with lim-
ited clinic hours frequently oblige workers to request time off work
to seek care. Employers often provide transportation and act as in-
formal translators. Most workers do not feel comfortable disclosing
health information to their employers. Thus, many work through
injuries and illnesses rather than asking employers for care72. If mi-
grants sustain a workplace illness or injury, they are often repatri-
ated before fully recovering and may face immense obstacles to ac-
cessing workplace compensation73.
69 MAYELL, S. (2016). Up-rooted Lives, Deep-rooted Memories: Stress
and Resilience among Jamaican Agricultural Workers in Southern
Ontario (Masters thesis, McMaster University).
70 FIDH, 2012, ibid.
71 MCLAUGHLIN, 2009, ibid; PREIBISCH / OTERO, 2014, ibid.
72 HENNEBRY, J. / GRASS, W. / MCLAUGHLIN, J. (2016). Women migrant
workers journey through the margins: Labour, migration and trafficking.
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of
Women (UN Women). Retrieved from
73 MCLAUGHLIN, et al., 2014, ibid; ORKIN, A. M. / LAY, M. /
MCLAUGHLIN, J. / SCHWANDT, M. / COLE, D. (2014). Medical repatriation
of migrant farm workers in Ontario: a descriptive analysis. CMAJ Open,
2(3), E192-E198.
372 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
Although SAWP workers wages are automatically deducted for
social benefits programs, they often cannot access social protections
such as the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance bene-
fits74. In summary, there is a severe gap between migrant farm
workers health and social protections on paper and in practice75.
All migrant workers in Spain are legally entitled to free health
care regardless of their immigration status76. As in Canada how-
ever, language and cultural barriers, transportation and employer
control all mitigate workers health care access. Workers in Spain
may be reluctant to go to health care centres or inform their em-
ployer when they are sick77. Health care practitioners have re-
sponded to some of these barriers with a number of initiatives. For
example, during the strawberry season there is typically one female
cultural mediator at local hospitals in Huelva to assist the workers.
Some local health centers have a strawberry doctor that works in
the afternoon, so that workers do not need to miss a day of work
(they normally work until 5pm)78. The existence of such initiatives
74 RAMSAROOP, C. (2016). The case for unemployment insurance bene-
fits for migrant agricultural workers in Canada. In: A. CHOUDRY / A.
SMITH (Eds.), Unfree labour? Struggles of migrant and immigrant workers
in Canada (pp. 105-122). Oakland, CA.
UFCW (2014). The great Canadian rip-off. An economic case for
restoring full EI special benefits access to SAWP workers.
75 MCLAUGHLIN, J. / HENNEBRY, J. / HAINES, T. (2014). Paper versus
Practice: Occupational Health and Safety Protections and Realities for
Temporary Foreign Agricultural Workers in Ontario. Perspectives Inter-
disciplinaires Sur Le Travail Et La Santé, 2-16.
76 Junta de Andalucía. (2007). Manual de Atención Sanitaria a
Inmigrantes. Sevilla: Consejería de Salud.
77 FIDH, 2012, ibid.
78 GAATW (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women). (2009). Fe-
male Temporary Circular Migration and Rights Protection in the Straw-
berry Sector in Huelva, Spain. Bangkok: GAATW International Secre-
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 373
is not widespread, however, and their effectiveness does not address
the structural factors that mediate access. In the end, realizing
workers right to health care depends greatly on employers.
Seasonal migrant workers in Spain pay 60€ every month for re-
tirement and unemployment insurance, but they can never receive
these benefits. Even though seasonal migrant workers make the
same social security contributions as other workers in Spain, they
are not entitled to unemployment support (which requires a mini-
mum of 270 days contribution), retirement or maternity benefits79.
Under a Moroccan-Spanish agreement from 1984, spouses and
children are eligible for health insurance during the period of the
contract. ANAPEC, the National Social Security Fund of Morocco,
and the Spanish authorities sought to implement this insurance in
2009. The difficulties are numerous, however, including employers
under-reporting the number of days worked to avoid social security
payments (ibid).
Bilateral agreements enabling the regular and orderly flows of
circular migrants have been the dominant and even celebrated ap-
proach to governing agricultural labour migration. When higher-
income nations militarize their borders and tighten immigration re-
strictions, they often use labour migration schemes as a tool to for-
malize the movements of low-wage workers across their borders.
Despite their distinct geopolitical histories, both the Canadian and
Spanish labour-migration schemes include features that have cast
them as examples of best practice, such as bilateral agreements
between governments and formalized rules for employer hiring
practices. In both cases, however, legalized migration pathways, the
provision of certain migrant rights on paper, and bilateral agree-
ments, are insufficient in addressing the well-documented viola-
tions of workers human and labour rights. Workers vulnerability to
79 FIDH, 2012, ibid.
374 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
exploitation is not an anomalous side effect; such schemes are so
popular among employers and states precisely because they con-
struct workers as deportable and with weak bargaining power.
Embedded into formal labour migration schemes is the logic of
migration for development, and the often touted triple-win of such
circular regimes, benefitting workers, sending and receiving states80.
But the triple-win fails to account for the costs borne on migrant
workers and their families, and it has also not yielded strong evi-
dence of long-term development for sending countries81. In both
contexts, these labour migration schemes are designed in a way that
powerfully exploits migrants ties to their families and children
while preventing family reunification through permanent immigra-
tion. Further, such schemes allow governments to sidestep the ma-
terial obligations and political consequences of welcoming agricul-
tural workers and their families for permanent settlement82. Receiv-
ing countries benefit by preventing visa overstay, and employers
benefit by having a workforce that is distanced from everyday fa-
milial obligations and available to work long and flexible hours.
Workers bear the costs of painful and prolonged familial separation,
and employers glean the benefits of a readily available and control-
lable workforce.
When comparing these two schemes, gender plays a key role in
terms of both workers experiences and the way they are gov-
erned83. While the migrant workforce in Morocco-Spain scheme is
highly feminized and in Canada it is highly masculinized, the two
cases show how employers and governments mobilize gender
stereotypes and socialization in ways that benefit capital accumula-
80 CASTLES S. / OZKUL D. (2014). Circular Migration: Triple Win, or a
New Label for Temporary Migration?. In: G. BATTISTELLA (Ed.), Global
and Asian Perspectives on International Migration. Global Migration
Issues, vol 4. Springer.
81 HENNEBRY et al., 2017.
82 PACIULAN, M. / PREIBISCH, K. (2014). Navigating the Productive/Re-
productive Split: Latin American Transnational Mothers and Fathers in
Canadas Temporary Migration Programs. Transnational Social Review,
3(2), 173-192.
83 HENNEBRY et al., 2016, ibid.
Agricultural Labour Migration in Canada and Spain 375
tion. In the SAWP, employers also draw on arbitrary ethno-racial
stereotypes in ways that promote competition and prevent solidarity
between workers, in a race to the bottom for rights and social pro-
tections84. Canada is clearly not alone in this regard, as worldwide
there are more than 317 bilateral labour migration agreements in
place. Rarely do these agreements address human rights or social
protection measures, particularly in the case of migration catego-
rized as low-skill85.
Amidst an increasingly competitive global agri-food market,
many countries rely on non-citizen workers with weak bargaining
power to produce competitively priced agricultural goods. Human-
itys need to feed itself is a given, but the expansion of unfree la-
bour schemes in fields and greenhouses across the globe is neither
natural nor inevitable. Economic migration lies less in the personal
motivation of the individual who migrates and more in the asym-
metries between countries86 (Ceriani-Cernadas, 2016, p. 103). La-
bour migration schemes are both a product of and a contributor to
such asymmetries. While there have been many tweaks and modifi-
cations of such programs, often in response to public or civil soci-
ety pressure, the structural-level changes required to align such pro-
grams with international human rights frameworks have not oc-
curred. To address the globalized inequality that underpins much la-
bour migration, it will be necessary to think beyond these schemes
and address core reasons why food and farm workers are treated as
cheap. Such rethinking is necessary, for instance, if states wish to
meet their targets for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustain-
84 PREIBISCH / BINFORD, 2007, ibid.
85 HENNEBRY, J. (2017). Securing and Insuring Livelihoods: Migrant
Workers and Protection Gaps. International Organization for Migration
(IOM), Geneva.
86 CERIANI-CERNADAS, P. (2016). Language as a migration policy tool:
Critical remarks on the concept of economic migrant and how it leads to
human rights violations. The Sur File on Migration and Human Rights,
13(23), 97-111. Retrieved from
uploads/2016/09/8-sur-23-ingles-pablo-ceriani-cernadas.pdf, p. 103.
376 J. Hennebry / J. McLaughlin / A. M. Weiler
able Development regarding gender inequality, decent work for all,
and numerous goals related to migration (e.g. Goals 5, 8, 10)87.
It is time to move beyond these stale schemes and traditional ap-
proaches to labour migration governance, and to recognize that
workers rights are human rights, regardless of sector or country of
employment and origin. Change also requires new thinking in-
formed by the 2030 Agenda about the relationships between the
global food system and global migration governance. Otherwise,
the human costs of fresh food will remain unconscionably high for
migrant workers, their families and communities.
87 HOLLIDAY, J. / HENNEBRY, J. / GAMMAGE, S. (2018). Achieving the
SDGs through the Gender, Migration and Development Nexus. Journal of
Ethnic and Migration Studies. Online First.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Dans cet article, on analyse le remplacement des travailleurs antillais par des Mexicains dans le Programme des travailleurs agricoles saisonniers du gouvernement du Canada, en mettant l'accent sur le rôle des interprétations racialisées dans la mise en œuvre de ce genre de programme. On y soutient qu'un mécanisme de racialisation étaie les discours des agriculteurs ontariens à la recherche de la main-d œuvre la plus laborieuse, fiable et flexible. Parfois même, les discours des agriculteurs affichent un racisme grossier, dépeignant les honimes antillais comme des Noirs hypersexués qui présentent un risque pour les Canadiennes, alors que, d'autres fois, ces préjugés raciaux sont formulées en termes de prédispositions physiques ou psychologiques à travailler à certaines récoltes. This paper analyses the replacement of Caribbean workers by Mexicans in Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, highlighting the role of racialized understandings in implementing foreign worker programs. It argues that a process of racialization underpins the discourses employed by Ontario growers in search of the most hardworking, reliable and flexible labour force. Sometimes grower discourses manifest a crude racism, casting Caribbean men as hypersexualized Black subjects who pose a risk to Canadian women, while other times these racialized assumptions are framed in terms of physical and/or psychic dispositions to the production of certain crops.