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Resistance to exploitation : East Indians and the rise of the Canadian Farmworkers Union in B.C. Jhappan, Carol R. 1983

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RESISTANCE TO EXPLOITATION: EAST INDIANS AND THE RISE OF THE CANADIAN FARMWORKERS UNION IN B.C. by CAROL R. JHAPPAN B.A. (Hons.) Oxford University, 1981 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of P o l i t i c a l Science)  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 1983 (e) Carol R. Jhappan, 1983  V,  DE-6  In p r e s e n t i n g  t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of  requirements f o r an advanced degree at the  the  University  o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make it  f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference  and  study.  I further  agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may  be granted by the head o f  department or by h i s or her  representatives.  my  It is  understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain  s h a l l not be allowed without my  permission.  Department Of  PnH-Hftal  The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date  n/sn  18th July.  1983.  Snlgnra  Columbia  written  -iiAbstract British Columbia has an undistinguished history of racial discrimination against ethnic minorities, most notably against "Asiatics", such as the Chinese, the Japanese and East Indians.  Members of these "visible" minorities  were allowed into the province i n the past as cheap labour, often with the proviso that they enter designated occupations.  These occupations were usu-  a l l y the low-status, low-paying jobs spurned by whites, such as domestic service and farmwork.  "Asiatics" were systematically denied the opportunity to  participate i n the p o l i t i c a l sphere by Acts of disfranchisement, which i n turn prohibited access to certain potentially powerful positions.  Discrim-  ination by statute was both blatant and intentional, and there i s l i t t l e doubt that the law sanctioned public animosity towards non-white minorities. One particularly subordinated sector of the work force was (and i s ) agricultural labour. Farmworkers are a minority both numerically and i n that approximately ninety per cent of them i n B.C. are of East Indian origin.  As  a group they have never enjoyed the benefits of protective labour legislation afforded other B.C. workers. Discrimination against farmworkers has taken the forms, either of omission from certain acts, or outright exclusion from protective provisions.  Farmworkers have, until recently, been denied the  right to unionize, as well as the coverage of minimum wages, Workers' Compensation and statutory safety regulations for farms, despite the fact that farmwork i s the third most dangerous occupation i n Canada. In 1979, a Farmworkers Organizing Committee was formed, which later became the Canadian Farmworkers Union. The C.F.U. represents a response to legislative discrimination, and i t s purpose i s to fight for the rights and dignity of farmworkers. The strategies employed by the Union i n pursuit of i t s goals have been those of a resource-poor minority, and are aimed at securing benefits for farmworkers comparable to those of other B.C. workers.  -iiiThis thesis i s the story of that struggle. I t i s a struggle against injustice, inequality and exploitation.  The thesis explores the grievances  of B.C.'s farmworkers and analyses the tactics u t i l i z e d by the C.F.U. The argument presented, however, maintains that although the Union has enjoyed some success i n i t s attempts to eliminate discrimination, i t has been parti a l l y pre-empted by the Social Credit government's Employment Standards Act of 1980.  Further, the (limited) degree of success has, to an extent, obviated  the basis of the C.F.U.'s continued struggle. The Union i s currently at a p o l i t i c a l cross-roads, whereby i t s survival i s threatened by the dual problems of a c r i t i c a l financial situation and a depleting membership, and not least by the unconcealed anti-unionism of the present Social Credit government and the resistance of the farmers' B.C. Federation of Agriculture. A Note on Methodology Because the C.F.U. i s unparalleled i n Canada, and because i t i s relatively new, l i t t l e literature exists which i s specifically related to the i s s ue.  Therefore, the primary research presented here i s based primarily on  interviews with individuals concerned i n one way or another with the farmwork issue.  They included members of and workers for the C.F.U., lawyers, trade  unionists, politicians, bureaucrats, farmers, contractors and farmworkers. Where portrayals of the 'facts' differed, I have recorded the range of opinion (where numbers warranted), and where information was corroborated by newspaper reports or other written sources, I have quoted those sources for easy reference. Another major source of information was that provided by various written submissions (for example, recommendations and briefs) to the government and to the Human Rights Commission, as well as occasional informal papers written by concerned individuals.  -ivTable of Contents Page i i  Abstract List of Figures  vi  Acknowledgement  vii  Chapter One - Introduction and Theoretical Perspectives  1  The Encounter  1  Theoretical Propositions: A Paradigm of Conflict  5  a. What Needs Doing - What Can Be Done?  5  b. Strategies of Conflict - Creating and Sustaining Group Support c. Strategies of Conflict - Winning  8 10  d. Dominant Group Strategies - "Won't You Come Into My Parlour?"  11  e. An Action-Response Model  15  Chapter Outlines  18  Footnotes  20  Chapter Two - Historical Discrimination and i t s Subtle Perpetuation  22  Unsettled Settlements  22  Closing the Floodgates  24  Channelling  26  A Change i n Climate  28  But Surely That Sort of Thing Is In the Past?  30  Summary  35  Footnotes  38  Chapter Three - Poverty i n the Valley of Plenty  42  The Imbalance of Power  43  The Grievances - Living Conditions  44  Farmwork May Be Dangerous to Your Health  50  The Grievances - Working Conditions  54  Summary  64  Footnotes  66  -V-  Page Chapter Four - "Uthan Da Vaila" (A Time to Rise)  70  Everything Is Possible, Nothing Can Be Done  70  In the Beginning  72  The Farmworkers Organizing Committee  ?k  Strategies of Resistances Phase 1 - 'Going Public'  75  The Canadian Farmworkers Union* Phase 2 - Recognition and Bargaining  81  Less Talk, More Actions Phase 3 - Coercion  83  Grappling with the Law  85  WhererNow?  89  Summary  90  Footnotes  93  Chapter Five - "You Can't Legislate Love"  99  "The People's Package"  99  The Burden of Proof  102  What Use Is Law?  106  Summary  107  Footnotes  109  Chapter Six - Conclusion Without An End  111  The Theory Revisited  113  Implications for the Future  115  Some Tentative Solutions  117  Epilogue  121  Bibliography  123  Appendices  126  List of Figures Page Figure 1 : A Model Depicting the Action-Response Dynamic Between Farmworkers and Government  14  -viiAcknowledgements To the many and varied people who have kindly furnished me with information and insights during the course of my research, and especially to those involved with the Canadian Farmworkers Union, I am grateful f o r this opportunity to extend many gracious thanks.  I am particularly indebted to Calvin  Sandborn for giving me the benefit of his knowledge and research, as well as to Raj Chouhan and Charan G i l l and the farmworkers of the Fraser Valley. I do hope my efforts have done justice to yours and I take pleasure i n extending my very best wishes for future success. Good luck. To my supervisor, John Wood, who i s responsible for getting me started and keeping me plugging at this work, I hope the finished product goes some way towards settling my indebtedness.  I have enjoyed great freedom and indep-  endence i n the pursuit of my studies - thanks, John, for helping me to make a difference.  To the Department of P o l i t i c a l Science at the University of  British Columbia, I offer appreciation for enabling this rewarding experience to come my way. Fortunately, I have no wife to thank for endless cups of strategically placed coffee, but I have been privileged by the friendship of B i l l Gyles and Liz Hewetson, who have endured stacks of grubby papers scattered libera l l y about their living room with patience bordering on the divine. Thanks for the grins and magic tricks, my friends. Gratitude seems a superfluous offering to my Editor and Inspiration, Nancy McMaster, who has made this work a thesis, rather than an amorphous bunch of words strewn about at random. You'll get plenty good karma for this one,Nancy. Finally, to my Mother and Friend, Alice, and my late Father, Derek Jhappan, I dedicate this thesis, with love.  -1-  INTRODUCTION THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES The Encounter One fine summers* day i n 1973. a twenty-four year old recent immigrant from India went to work at a farm i n Clearbrook, B.C., having responded to a labour contractor's advertisement i n a local newspaper. On his f i r s t day, Raj Chouhan was fired.  He had seen and heard the contractor, also of Indian  origin, hurling verbal abuse at an old woman i n the f i e l d s .  Chouhan had i n -  tervened, asking the contractor to show some respect for his elders, and had lost his job for his pains. Moving to another farm and another contractor, he found similar conditions, similar disrespect for the workers, a similar inequity i n the distribution of power between employers and employees. I t was not long before Chouhan began to wonder how and why this situation was allowed to persist, why farmworkers were unable or unwilling to resist such treatment.  He began to make enquiries as to whether any union, existed which  was capable of defending the workers' rights and dignity.  No such organiz-  ation existed, and furthermore, no one had ever heard of a union for farmworkers i n the whole of Canada, much less i n British Columbia.  Chouhan was  quickly dropped from the labour force when the contractor heard of his 'union talk'. His next job took Chouhan to a turkey farm i n the Clearbrook area, where twelve workers each earned approximately $2.00 an hour. unions resulted i n a speedy dismissal.  Again, his talk of  A few weeks later, i n a small chem-  i c a l plant which employed five workers, Chouhan discovered the existence of an O i l and Chemical Workers' Union, and eventually persuaded his fellow workers to become members. He was fired after three months. I t was not u n t i l January, 1974 that he got his f i r s t taste of bitter struggle.  Along  with thirty-six other workers i n a small Lower Mainland lumber factory, he  -2-  fought for several months to get a local of the International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) certified by the B.C. Labour Relations Board (L.R.B.) and again found himself unemployed. After working i n a small organized sawm i l l for eight months, a frustrated and brow-beaten Chouhan returned to India i n 1975• With ample time for reflection, he decided his future lay i n Canada and so came back i n 1976. on the Fraser River.  This time he found employment i n a plywood factory  This was to provide his most stable economic base to  date, from which he could pursue what was increasingly becoming a major goalthe creation of an organization which could fight for the rights of farmworkers as workers.  1  Raj Chouhan i s a member of one of Canada's 'visible' ethnic minorities, more specifically, a member of Vancouver's East Indian community. His experience on the farms of the Fraser Valley i n B.C. i s an experience shared by many farmworkers i n the province. There are an estimated thirteen thou* sand farmworkers i n British Columbia  , and they are, almost without excep-  tion, members of various ethnic minorities.  In the Fraser Valley, nearly  ninety per cent of farmworkers are of East Indian origin (the remainder being mostly Chinese) and i n the Okanagan they are mostly drawn from the Quebecois and Native Indian communities, with some student and miscellaneous labour during the peak of the season. Out of the total, an estimated sixty-five 3 per cent are women, while the rest are mainly older men and children. Many farmworkers speak no English and some are also i l l i t e r a t e i n their f i r s t language. Farmworkers i n B.C. have never enjoyed the rights and privileges conferred upon other workers i n the province. With the exception of domestic workers, they have traditionally been the most lowly paid section of the Canadian labour force. legislation.  They have always been exempted from protective labour  Their relative powerlessness has reinforced their subordinate  position i n society and they have largely been ignored by government, by the trade union movement and by the wider society. Yet i n the last three years a union claiming to represent these neglected workers has arisen, i t s leaders and membership drawn from the East Indian community of Vancouver. Its aims are to fight for the 'rights' and human dignity of farmworkers by modifying the existing institutional and legislative environment. In this sense, the Canadian Farmworkers Union (C.F.U.) can be seen as a response to legislative discrimination. The C.F.U. at this point can legitimately claim to be the only union for farmworkers i n Canada. Its leaders are careful to present the organization as an ordinary trade union, with the usual concerns of trade unions such as hours, overtime, holidays, health and safety and collective bargaining.  Yet the C.F.U. i s further distinguished by i t s marriage of traditional  class-based actions with a distinct, ethnically-oriented approach to p o l i t i c a l and economic conflict.  Although the Union seeks to represent a l l Can-  adian farmworkers, i t s emergence from within the East Indian community of Vancouver has given the organization a singularly ethnic flavour. Farmworkers, as mentioned above, have traditionally been one of the most lowly paid sectors of society. They have also traditionally been drawn from ethnic minorities.  Is this mere coincidence, or i s ethnicity a determining  factor i n the economic subordination of farmworkers? How do governments balance their obligations to represent the diffuse, and sometimes conflicting interests of a l l sections of the electorate? Who has the power to change the system of distribution of rewards? With respect to the last question posed, the C.F.U. believes i t s e l f to be capable of effecting changes i n farmworkers' living and working conditions, and has enjoyed a measure of success i n the past three years.  However, this  thesis w i l l argue that the few victories the Union has achieved have been  more i n the nature of placebos than of fundamental changes i n the structure of social and economic relations. It w i l l be argued that the concessions made (by government) have been the results of two main pressures - f i r s t , the negative publicity generated by the C.F.U.'s agitation and, second, the imperatives foisted upon both federal and provincial governments by the non-discrimination clauses of the 1981 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In other words, i t i s p o l i t -  i c a l expediency rather than an induced awareness of social injustice and i n equality which has motivated shifts i n policy towards the farmworkers. Furthermore, this thesis w i l l argue that the C.F.U. (notwithstanding the enormous d i f f i c u l t i e s associated with organizing farmworkers) has made a number of strategic mistakes which have serious implications for i t s effectiveness as a pressure group. By 'going public' from the outset, the Union was somewhat successful i n embarrassing the government.  However, the chan-  ges incorporated into the 1980 Employment Standards Act, i t w i l l be argued, have to a large extent pre-empted the C.F.U.'s case f o r further mobilization. This dilemma, combined with the fact that the Union does not have a mass support base among farmworkers, has serious implications for the survival of the Union i n the immediate future. The last major argument of this thesis w i l l refute an argument presented by recent British Columbian governments to rebut charges of racial discrimination.  Although post-war B.C. governments have claimed that discrimination  against farmworkers i s inadvertent, an unfortunate and unforeseen side-effect of expedient policies, the facts support an argument to the contrary. There i s a long and ignominious history of legal discrimination against East Indians (among other groups) i n B.C., and a similar history of segregative treatment of farmworkers which militate against the ?expediency' claim.  The  essential argument of this thesis i s as follows: i f a government perceives  that a group i s experiencing discrimination as a result of i t s policies, and that this discrimination i s pernicious i n i t s effects upon that group, and i f , furthermore, i t i s within the government's power to rectify the situation but i t does not, then that discrimination i s , to a l l intents and purposes, both intentional and purposive. To date, the present work i s the only academic enquiry into the emergence and progress of the Canadian Farmworkers Union. It w i l l examine the progress of the Union from i t s inception i n 1979/80 through a chronology of events, as well as through an analysis of the implications of actions, responses and their motivations.  I t w i l l deal with the issues, the particip*  ants and the means employed i n the pursuit of ends, as well as assess the gains and losses to the main protagonists.  Finally, the thesis w i l l provide  some insight into the complex process by which an ethnic minority group perceives i t s e l f as a victim of discrimination and mobilizes i n order to defend i t s interests. To this end, the thesis begins by setting up a theoretical framework within which information can be interpreted and which w i l l , i t i s hoped, have some predictive value. Theoretical Propositions: A Paradigm of Conflict Theoretical frameworks are mischievous creatures.  They invariably res-  t r i c t ; they rarely liberate, although they can enlighten.  Their function i s  to narrow discourse and "keep us from leaping the walls of our own imaginh  ation" . The theoretical model presented here i s of limited scope and applicability.  I t i s designed to illuminate a dynamic process between certain  types of antagonists, exemplified by the C.F.U. and the B.C. government. a. What Needs Doing - What Can Be Done? Because the Canadian Farmworkers Union i s engaging i n an adversarial struggle with the B.C. provincial government (as well as with farmers and  -6-  contractors), the conceptual paradigm utilized here i s based on conflict theory.  The notion of conflict implies a perception of incompatible views  or interests between two or more parties. In the case of minority groups, i t refers to dissent, where the minority not only perceives i t s e l f as having different values and goals from the dominant group, but finds i t s e l f opposing those of the latter.  For the purposes of this discussion, therefore, con-  f l i c t w i l l be defined as a situation where minority groups (or individual leaders) question the legitimacy of the system of distribution of rewards and enter a p o l i t i c a l battle against the dominant group. The term 'minority' as used here i s a qualitative rather than a quantitative term.  In other words, a minority group w i l l have a range of char-  acteristics, above and beyond i t s numerical strength (or weakness).  Louis  Wirth used the following definitions We may define a minority as a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination. The existence of a minority i n a society implies the existence of a corresponding dominant group enjoying higher social status and greater privileges. Minority status carries with i t the exclusion from f u l l participation i n the l i f e of the society. Though not necessarily an alien group, the minority i s treated and regards i t s e l f as a people apart. 5 This definition of minority i s based on both the minority and the dominant groups' perceptions of inter-group separateness and intra-group sameness. Yet i t i s possible for a group to be treated separately and unequally without engaging i n conflict. The notion of conflict presupposes certain levels and types of awareness, which have been identified by Kriesberg as follows: For social conflicts to emerge, three major elements of awareness are needed. F i r s t , the groups or parties to the conflict must be conscious of themselves as collective entities, separate from each other. Second,  -7-  one or more groups must be dissatisfied with their posi t i o n relative to another group. Finally, they must think that they can reduce their dissatisfaction by the other group acting or being different; that i s , they must have aims which involve the other group yielding what i t would not otherwise yield. 6 Even i f the dissatisfied group does not hold the dominant group directly responsible for i t s position, there must be at least a belief that the dominant group i s able to redistribute goods. As Kriesberg points out, "dissatisfaction, discontent or a sense of grievance analytically entails people having less than they think they should have and conceivably could have" . The differences between what people have and think they should have are usually based not only on the absolute magnitude of deprivation, but also on a comparison of their position relative to other groups. But the 'goods' i n question are not always material ones. In the case of minority ethnic groups who have been "singled out for differential and unequal treatment", the rewards sought are often intangible or 'symbolic' rewards, such as 'rights'.  As Oberschall points outs Social conflict i s seldom a simple mechanical reaction to grievances and frustrations experienced i n pursuit and defence of material interests. Interests and dissatisfactions are experienced and interpreted by way of moral ideas about right and wrong, justice and injustice or conceptions of the social orders as they are expressed i n ideals and highly regarded principles. The drive to change existing institutions, whether to reform or revolutionize them, i s inspired by unrealized ideals. Measured against the ideals that are enshrined i n the sacred books, the constitutions and collective myths, reality f a l l s short. The gap may be wide or narrow; i t s very existence w i l l justify the effort to close i t i n the name of legitimate, highly valued and respected principles. 8  The difference between this view of conflict and those approaches which stress only economic and material deprivation, l i e s i n the possibilities of outcomes. The materialist view implies a zero-sum game, where the gains won by the minority would be precisely offset by the losses to the dominant group. Oberschall's view, on the contrary, allows for a variable-sum game,  -8because i t i s possible that the non-material gains sought by the minority may not be perceived as significant losses by the dominant group. I f this i s the case, then the latter may be more willing to concede to the minority's demands. However, the dominant group may be more willing to grant material concessions than to encourage a sense of moral rectitude on the part of the dissatisfied group, which may ultimately foster higher ambitions. b. Strategies of Conflict - Creating and Sustaining Group Support Thus far, the discussion has implicitly assumed that the minority (in this case, the farmworking minority) sees i t s e l f as an aggrieved group and i s ready to act en masse. However, this i s seldom the case with ethnic minorities.  Often, even i f group members do feel dissatisfied, they are loathe  to engage i n p o l i t i c a l struggle for a number of reasons.  First, they may be  prepared to accept their l o t as present conditions may be better than past experience; their expectations may be low; their present situation may only be temporary; or the income from the industry i n question i s only a supplement to their total family income, so i t i s not a matter of survival. Second, they may feel intimidated by their employers, by the authorities, or by their fear of ending up i n a worse position than before. Third, they may lack confidence i n their power, individually or collectively, to effect changes i n circumstances, especially i f they see no reason to expect privileged others to care about their dissatisfaction. The above constraints are some of the problems faced by emergent leaders of subordinated ethnic minority groups.  Leaders, whatever their origins,  must be skilled i n a number of areas i f they are to create and sustain group support. First, would-be leaders must encourage a sense of common consciousness and purpose within their reference group. They must be able to identify and  articulate the grievances of the group, in a way that members can recognize. Second, leaders must highlight discrepancies between actual conditions and the ideals of the group. This can be done by pointing to the superior conditions of other groups, a comparative distinction which w i l l make the group's relative situation appear unjust.  Third, the leaders must suggest that con-  ditions should be changed, and furthermore, that they can be changed. This entails convincing group members that there i s an identifiable 'enemy', or at least a responsible party, which i s capable of redistributing economic benefits and granting symbolic rewards. Fourth, leaders must convince group members they they have (or can attain) appropriate resources and power to effect change, and have as well a reasonable chance of 'winning'. Such prerequisites refer to the i n i t i a l stages of creating group consciousness and confidence before entering conflict.  Once the battle has be-  gun, however, these awarenesses must be kept vivid i n the consciousness of the group, and supplemented by further strategies. If the group as a whole i s demand-rich but resource-poor, i t may be necessary to appeal not only to members' desires for material benefits, but also to their sense of righteousness, the feeling that the struggle i t s e l f i s i n trinsically valuable and rewarding. One effective way of appealing to this o sense i s to create a "vile enemy" . As Shibutani and Kwan observe, concomitant with the nurturing of group identity, groups w i l l characteristically "impute v i l e motives to their opponents". A form of 'ethical dualism' evolves through contrasting images of oneself as against the 'enemy's Whatever the enemy does i s interpreted i n the least favourable light...Everything that i s condemned i n one's own group i s imputed to the enemy. He i s cruel, treacherous, sordid, perfidious, destructive. He i s a fiend who commits atrocities against women and children, the old and the blind. 10 Under such assumptions, anyone joining the struggle w i l l be helping to combat evil.  One of the remarkable ironies of conflict, as Shibutani and Kwan note,  -10i s that the conception of the enemy formed on one side i s almost a mirror image of the conception formed on the other. Finally, i f leaders are to sustain group support during the struggle, they must be seen to be making gains. Their goals, both strategic (long-run) and tactical (short-run), must at a l l times be 'realistic'.  The succession  of goals must always be related to group capacities, and they must allow the sense of grievance to grow, i f the movement i s to sustain itselfs There i s a paradox here. In one sense the organization must succeed i n meeting the demands of the supporters, but success obviates the basis for support of the organization. Leaders, the opposition and fortuitous c i r cumstances may or may not conjoin to yield a combination of distant goals and immediate achievements which sustain the emerging conflict organization. 12 c. Strategies of Conflict - Winning The idea of conflict often involves coercion. Opposing sides w i l l attempt to u t i l i z e their power (which i s taken here as the relative coercive strength of the conflicting parties) to induce desired behaviour.  Assuming  a resource-poor minority (such as farmworkers), efficacious strategies i n conflict w i l l not only act as means toward end goals, they can also yield more resources i n the process.  For example, by enlisting the support of the  trade union movement, the group can win more supporters of 'the cause', as well as monetary assistance. A resource-poor minority can thus vary strategies with increasing resources and/or power. These strategies can be ident i f i e d as ( l ) Persuasion; (2) Embarrassment; (3) Bargaining; and (4) Coercion. Persuasion i s an appropriate technique for influencing the adversary's behaviour where the dissatisfied group has limited human and material resources. By appealing to the dominant group's sense of 'fair play' or unwillingness to be seen as a discriminator, the minority group hopes to persuade the dominant group that meeting i t s 'requests' would be i n both parties' interests . Persuasion therefore involves inducing the dominant group to want to  -11-  make appropriate concessions. Embarrassment i s a technique used by relatively powerless minority groups, particularly i f persuasion has failed.  It involves publicizing the  issues i n the hope of exposing inadequacies i n the system as unjust, thereby enlisting the support of members of 'the public'.  As democratic governments  are founded upon consensus, public opinion can be used as a formidable weapon. To embarrass a government means to attack i t s public image by highlighting i t s unresponsiveness to 'justified' claims. Bargaining occurs when group leaders have enlisted enough support and accrued sufficient resources to present themselves as legitimate representatives of a group with legitimate grievances.  This applies particularly to  would-be trade unions, such as the C.F.U. Once formally recognized, the group becomes a partner to negotiations, rather than an extraneous pressure group. Finally, coercion i s a strategy which may be utilized i f a l l else f a i l s . It depends, of course, on how much power the minority group leaders are able to wield. However, the use of coercive tactics normally invites similar tact i c s from the dominant group (government, i n our case). The ethnic minority group w i l l inevitably be dwarfed by the corporate power wielded by governments, though some strategies, such as strikes and boycotts, can s t i l l be effective. d. Dominant Group Strategies - "Won't You Come Into My Parlour?" The ease under scrutiny here features the government as the object of the C.F.U.'s attention.  Anderson and Frideres have outlined four major tech-  niques by which dominant groups maintain p o l i t i c a l control over ethnic minority groups. They are ( l ) Insulation; (2) Sanctions; (3) Persuasion; and (4-) Co-optation  . To these techniques, 'pre-emption*should  be added. Like  -12-  the strategies subordinated groups may employ i n conflict, the selection of strategies by a dominant group w i l l depend on i t s power relative to that of the aggrieved group, as well as what i t can hope to 'get away with' i n the public eye. Insulation refers to the process of keeping a minority from effectively participating i n the p o l i t i c a l and economic l i f e of the society.  In the past,  such techniques have included disfranchisement and exclusion from certain forms of employment, from education, from public positions and even from residing i n certain areas. Today, most of the more archaic forms of insulation have been removed from the statutes, though the reality may s t i l l be perpetuated by other means. For example, u n t i l recently, some workers were prohibited from forming trade unions (farmworkers being a case i n point).  Insul-  ation by legislative exclusion (which w i l l be the subject of Chapter Two) can prevent (or at least delay) mobilization of ethnic minority groups by denying them the means of protest through ordinary channels. Sanctions refer to negative or positive rewards which can be meted out by the dominant group (government). They can take physical forms, such as confiscation of property, or abstract forms, such as recognition of a group's legitimacy.  In the case of a relatively powerless minority group, like farm-  workers, sanctions can make the costs of protest negate the expected benefits. Persuasion involves attempts to control the desire rather than the a b i l i t y to influence, unlike sanctions or insulation.  Although as an approach  i t closely parallels the minority's strategy, persuasion by the dominant group appeals to different emotions. Worries about the world economic recession may be played upon, for example, and the dominant group w i l l try to convince the protesting group that they should sacrifice their own welfare for the greater good of "the national interest".  The subordinate minority  may be persuaded that i t s demands are excessive, or that the dominant group  -13-  i s taking care of i t s interests as far as i s possible. Co-optation i s another strategy for maintaining control.  I t involves  taking some influential members of the protesting group into the dominant group's power structure or established institutions.  The technique relies  upon the re-socialization of the co-opted leader and his/her adoption of the norms and values of the dominant group. Co-optation i s designed to isolate leaders from their reference groups, and this "seriously jeopardizes their 14 a b i l i t y to bring pressure against the dominant group". Finally, pre-emption refers to a situation where the government gives the appearance of playing out the conflict, but i n fact, i t s responses are attempts to pre-empt further agitation/conflict.  For example, the dominant  party may grant 'concessions' which prove illusory - perhaps by setting up a committee to look into grievances, which includes minority participation, but whose recommendations have no 'teeth' (as i s usually the case with Human Rights Commissions).  In any case, to an undiscerning public, i t may look as  i f the minority's grievances have been addressed and rectified, so that there i s no need for further public attention. I f the minority keeps protesting, the government can claim to have reached an equitable 'compromise', and may accuse the minority of intransigence.^ The above strategies to maintain control by the dominant group w i l l not necessarily be used i n sequence. They parallel the strategies of minority groups i n that they are dependent on perceptions of relative power, goals and calculations of the efficacy of each technique.  But i n conflict, each  party w i l l take cues from the responses of the other party. Kriesberg notes: Each party affects the way the other acts, not only as each responds to the other, but as each may anticipate the responses of the other. 15 Parties i n conflict cannot blindly follow a predetermined set of strategies. They must monitor and respond to their opponent's actions, i f they are to succeed.  -14-  Flgure 1.  A Model depicting the Action-Response Dynamic between Farmworkers and Government.  Dominant Group Government  Ethnic Minority - Farmworkers  -15-  e. An Action-Response Model Figure 1 (page 14) i s a diagrammatic illustration of the action-response dynamic between the dominant group (government) and the subordinate minority (farmworkers, as represented by the CFU).  The model assumes:  (1) that the two parties engage i n conflictual struggle only as a means of achieving goals, and therefore conflict i s not pursued for i t s own sake; (2) that both parties value stability and w i l l usually try to return to stable positions; (3) that the dominant society (as represented by government) experiences increasing levels of tolerance, racial enlightenment and valuation of ideals such as social justice and equal opportunity over time, and that therefore i t s willingness to accede to legitimate claims for f a i r treatment w i l l grow over time; (4) that the minority (farmworkers) w i l l become increasingly aware of i t s subordinate position relative to other groups, and that this awareness w i l l be accompanied by rising dissatisfaction and aspirations, manifested i n higher demands; (5) that i f the dominant society i s high on the liberalization scale, then most of the minority's sources of dissatisfaction w i l l have been alleviated already, so that outstanding grievances w i l l be addressed by means other than conflict. 17 The model i s based on standard economic functions. plot trade-offs between two variables.  Demand curves  There can be infinite numbers of  demand curves, so their actual representation on the diagram i s entirely arbitrary.  However, the slope of the demand curves (d^ to dg on Figure l)  from north-west to south-east implies that demands or claims decrease as the level of liberalization increases (because of the f i f t h assumption).  The  -16-  v e r t i c a l axis represents the increasing levels of tolerance on the part of the dominant group (as i n the third assumption), using the generic term, "liberalization".  The horizontal axis represents the rising dissatisfaction  of farmworkers, which w i l l be manifested by increased demands (as i n the fourth assumption).  Finally, the function, S, at a 45°angle from the origin,  represents 'stability', which i s here taken as the absence of protracted social strife and disruption. Point E shows that level  of ethnic minority demands i s i n equilibrium  with the prevailing level of liberalization of the dominant group. Here, there w i l l be l i t t l e , i f any, conflict.  However, as the minority's collec-  tive self-image improves and i t s aspirations increase, i t may make higher demands than the dominant group i s willing to concede. Point G represents such a situation.  The idea i s to induce a change i n what the government i s  prepared to give.  The minority i s cognisant of the fact that the government  does not want protracted conflict, and so may try to hold out for i t s demands u n t i l the government gives i n . The group does not pursue conflict for i t s own sake either, but i t has more motivation for continuing than the government, which faces pressure from many sources. A return to stability requires either a vertical or a horizontal movement by the protesting group. In order to reach an agreement whereby each party gains something and does not lose face (a 'good' i n i t s e l f for the government, which i s anxious to protect i t s positive public image), compromise i s necessary. I t may be to the farmworkers' benefit to demand more than they actually expect to win.  In that way i t i s possible to Induce a  small change i n the dominant group's willingness to concede. By demanding at G on d^ , a compromise w i l l get the minority onto a higher demand curve (d^ at point F) than i t s original position, though this i s not as high a curve as the projected one (d^ at point I ) . In other words, at the start of  -17-  the next round of bargaining, the minority begins from an elevated position, and i t can upgrade i t s demands accordingly. A degree of success w i l l reinforce the followers' faith i n their a b i l i t y to change their circumstances. We have discussed earlier the requirement that goals/demands must be related to group capacities.  They must also be realistic i n terms of an ass-  essment of what the prevailing level of liberalization of the dominant group w i l l allow.  Point X denotes a level of demands which far exceeds the requi-  site level of liberalization. pen.  At this point one of three things could hap-  F i r s t , the group would ideally like to be at J .  group w i l l not yield to pressure.  However, the dominant  The group could therefore try to reach a  compromise which w i l l elevate i t s position to d^, d^ or dg.  Second, i f this  does not work, the dominant group might "crack-down" with sanctions, forcing the protesting group back to i t s original position, or i n some cases, even to a lower position.  Generally, the level of liberalization i s expected to  increase over time, but i t s real progression may be i n 'stop-go' cycles. There may even be times when i t actually declines. Third, the government could simply ignore the group's demands. I f the group i s l e f t to flounder around at X, i t risks losing support as i t may be seen to be achieving nothing.  This i s a similar position to that at which many left-wing groups find  themselves, unable to achieve goals and unable to carry mass support. Of course, i t i s possible to find a society at positions to the l e f t of the function S .  For example, at K, the dominant party i s willing to give  much more than the minority i s demanding. The anti-slavery issue in the United States after the C i v i l War was a good example of this, as the black exclaves were not themselves demanding their freedom. However, this s i t uation i s very much the exception after a minority has begun to compare i t s l o t with other groups i n the society. From the point of view of the minority, p o l i t i c a l ingenuity w i l l lead  -18to choices of strategies which yield serviceable compromises on an incremental basis. The minority should not risk losing important skirmishes for lack of preparedness, as i t w i l l risk losing the battle. It must also leave enough room for movement i n response to the opponent's actions i f i t i s to have the f l e x i b i l i t y required by organizations i n conflict. Chapter Outlines Chapter Two of this thesis concentrates on the 'insulation' technique utilized against East Indians by B.C. governments since the turn of the century.  The chapter traces historical discrimination on the basis of race,  which was enshrined i n provincial legislation.  It discusses how immigration  policy varied with the needs of the economy, and how this policy, u n t i l very recently, blatantly expressed the racial prejudice and hatred which has been part of B.C.'s p o l i t i c a l history. Finally, Chapter Two links the historical discrimination against East Indians with historical discrimination against farmworkers. The chapter concludes that even i f the exclusion of farmworkers from protective labour legislation has been only a side-effect of 'expedient' policies, the neglect of farmworkers has nonetheless been intentional, and amounts to purposive discrimination. Chapter Three outlines the major grievances which form the basis of the C.F.U.'s campaign to modify legislation.  The issues concern living and  working conditions and pesticides. A fourth issue area concerns exclusion from compulsory coverage under schemes like Workers' Compensation. The chapter discusses the confusion as to which ministry i s responsible for various aspects of farmworklng conditions, and argues that this i s part of the general disinterest i n farmworkers which has rendered them a powerless and forgotten minority. Chapter Four traces the development of the C.F.U. from i t s inception  -19-  i n 1979/80, concentrating on the individuals involved, how the organization was formed, which strategies were used (how, why, when and to what effect) and how the government and farmers have responded to them. The chapter provides a chronology of events to date for those readers who are interested i n the actual logistics of the development of the farmworkers' struggle. Chapter Five i s speculative.  I t discusses some of the implications of  the non-discrimination clauses of the 1981 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with respect to minorities such as farmworkers. Finally, there follows a brief discussion of the legal debate over discriminatory purpose versus disproportionate impact.  This debate i s intimately linked with the  human rights question, because i t places the burden of proof upon the a l l eged discriminator, as does human rights legislation.  The question i s an  important one for minorities, for the Charter implies that discrimination against particular groups must be justified according to c r i t e r i a other than expediency, and could well change the kinds of treatment sanctioned by Canadian law. Chapter Six i s a tentative conclusion - tentative because the C.F.U. i s s t i l l a fledgling union whose struggle i s by no means over.  The chapter  w i l l assess the arguments i n the light of the 'facts' and determine their validity.  I t reconsiders the theoretical propositions and their usefulness  and proposes some provisional solutions to some of the long- and short-term problems of survival currently facing the Canadian Farmworkers Union.  -20-  Footnotes 1.  Information supplied by Raj Chouhan, President of the Canadian Farmworkers Union, i n an interview held on September 1, 1982.  2.  This figure represents an average of estimates reported by the CFU, the Labour Relations Board, the B.C. Federation of Agriculture and the Canada Farm Labour Pool at Abbotsford. "Farmworkers" as used here Includes full-time, part-time and seasonal workers who are employed i n any aspect of farmwork, including machinery operators, hoers, weeders, planters and harvesters. I t does not include family members of farm owners. I t must be noted that the farmworking population i s a transient one. Thirteen thousand i s an average - some people drop out of farmwork after a year or so, while others begin i t . Many people only engage i n farmwork periodically or sporadically and may have other occupations with which they primarily associate themselves - for example,'housewives* or students.  3.  Again, this figure i s an average of estimates from the sources quoted above.  4.  Ira Goldenberg, Oppression and Social Intervention. (Nelson-Hall Inc., Chicago, 1978), p . l .  5.  Louis Wirth, "The Problem of Minority Groups", i n Minaka Kurokawa, Minority Responses} Comparative Views of Reactions to Subordination. (Random House, New York, 1970), p.34.  6.  L. Kriesberg, The Sociology of Social Conflicts. (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1973)1 p . 6 l .  7.  Ibid., p.67.  8.  A. Oberschall, Social Conflict and Social Movements. (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1973), P.I87.  9.  R. Shibutani and K.M. Kwan, Social Stratification. (MacMillan Publishing, New York, 1965), P-385.  10. Ibid., p.386. See also, Arthur Gladstone, "The Conception of the Enemy", in Journal of Conflict Resolution. No. 3 (1959)« pp.132-137. 11. Shibutani and Kwan, op. c i t . , p.390. 12. Kriesberg, op. c i t . , p.83. For a good discussion of the functions of social conflict, see L. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict. (Free Press, Glencoe, I l l i n o i s , 1956), and J . Himes, "The Functions of Racial Conflict", i n Social Forces. 45 (1966): pp.1-10. Coser suggests that conflict (a) sets boundaries between groups by strengthening group consciousness; (b) permits the maintenance of relationships under conditions of stress; (c) provides a kind of balancing mechanism i n preventing deep cleavages along the social axis; and (d) allows for a testing of power strength of each group so that accomodation  -21-  between the groups i s possible. Himes identifies four dimensions i n which conflict can be viewed as functional from the perspective of the subordinate groups ( l ) structural; (2) communication; (3) solidarity; (4) identity. 13. A.B. Anderson and J.S. Frideres, Ethnicity i n Canada - Theoretical Perspectives. (Butterworth & Co., Vancouver, 1981), p.199. 14.  Ibid., p.256.  15. Kriesberg, op. c i t . , p.20. 16. W.A. Gamson, Power and Discontent. (Dorsey Press, I l l i n o i s , 1968),pp.180-3. In The Strategy of Social Protest. (Dorsey Press, I l l i n o i s , 1975),p.29, Gamson constructs the following tables Acceptance (by dominant group)  Many  1 F u l l Response  2 Pre-emption  None  3 Co-optation  4 Collapse  New Advantages  — _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Boxes 1 & 4 are unambiguous successes or failures Boxes 2 & 3 are mixed outcomes "Co-optation" - acceptance without new advantages "Pre-emption" = new advantages without acceptance There are four indicators of "acceptance": 1. Consultation - invitation to participate i n decision-making 2. Negotiations - acceptance of group as spokesmen 3 . Formal recognition - explicit recognition of group as a representative 4. Inclusion - co-optation, giving group leaders status or authority i n the antagonist's organizational structure (without cutting ethnic ties). 17. Any reader not familiar with standard economic principles might refer to any introductory economics text-book for in-depth explanations of the functions and meanings of demand curves, etc.  -22GHAPTER TWO HISTORICAL DISCRIMINATION AND ITS SUBTLE PERPETUATION This Chapter discusses the 'insulation' technique utilized historically by B.C. governments against East Indians, who form the majority of the province's farmworking population. I t shows how both immigration and employment policies have effectively denied East Indians f u l l p o l i t i c a l and economic participation i n society i n the past. The chapter shows that farmworkers, who have traditionally been excluded from protective labour legislation, are s t i l l suffering discrimination.  Finally, the chapter argues that because  legislators have been, and are,aware of the ethnic composition of the farm labour force, legislative exclusion has been conscious, and the neglect of farmworkers amounts to purposive discrimination. Unsettled Settlements British Columbia's record concerning Asian immigration i s , at best, undistinguished.  The year 1983 represents the eightieth year of East Indian  presence i n Canada, with the community numbering about 310,000 throughout the provinces.''' Although people of South Asian origin probably make up the most rapidly growing ethno-cultural group i n Canada, they have never received the welcome with which other groups have been greeted. Immigration of "nonwhites" to Canada has fluctuated with the vagaries and needs of the Canadian economy and with the 'tolerance' of white society - i t s e l f composed of a multiplicity of ethnic groups.  Because they did not have free access to the  realm of formal politics, employment or housing, and because their entry status was a subordinate one from the start, East Indians were effectively hampered i n a l l aspects of Canadian l i f e .  Without presuming to identify the  origins of racism, one may be certain that the law has sanctioned public antipathy towards East Indians.  -23-  East Indians f i r s t arrived i n Canada around 1898, though o f f i c i a l records of entry only began i n 1904.  Sikh regiments had passed through Canada  on their return from Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and had later told their compatriots of Canada's richness and opportunities. Consequently, a small number trickled into B.C., so that by 1904, approximately one hundred East Indians were living i n Vancouver. They were, almost without exception, single men who had come i n order to make money, which they could send home to India, where they would some day return.  Their f i r s t employment was centred  around the saw-mills of Port Moody. Some moved to lumber camps and the r a i l 2  ways, while others moved on to farmwork.  As most immigrants came with  l i t t l e or no money i n i t i a l l y , i t was not until the 1920's that some East 3  Indians became farm owners themselves. At f i r s t , the employment opportunities available to East Indian immigrants were circumscribed by previous exclusionary policies against Oriental 4  labour.  Chinese labour had been brought to B.C. during the Gold Rush of  the 1850's to work on railroads and i n mines (and later other low-status jobs), but burgeoning anti-Oriental sentiment soon resulted i n a series of "head taxes" designed to 'choke o f f Chinese immigration. ^ The ensuing curtailment of Chinese labour meant that cannery owners, farmers and employers of domestic servants would be forced to hire white workers.  Given that i t was common practice to pay non-white workers only  two-thirds of the going rate that white workers could demand,^ and that white workers i n general had recently won wage increases, with higher labour costs.  employers were faced  Claiming that these costs had tripled, they began  to petition the government to re-open immigration.  Thus, between 1906 and  1907, 4,700 East Indians were allowed to enter B.C. (along with 10,000 Japanese) , subject to the proviso that they should enter designated occupations, g namely, farming, canning and domestic service.  -24However, the labour shortage soon turned into a job shortage and by the end of 1907 there were 1,500 unemployed East Indians i n B.C. racist sentiments made an appearance once again.  Predictably,  C.F. Gray, President of  the Victoria Trades and Labour Council, said i n 1907: The introduction of this class of cheap labour w i l l be the means of excluding the very class of labour that i s most essential for the progress and prosperity of the country - i . e . white workers, who, i f paid a f a i r living wage, could settle here, maintain homes and rear families and thoroughly f u l f i l l the duties of citizenship. 9 I t i s interesting to note that here, 'class' refers to race.  This 'class  of cheap labour' was performing, for the most part, work which whites did not want to do, but the above argument was to be used again and again. The 'duties of citizenship', whatever they were, likewise assumed importance amongst racists.  R.G. McPherson, Liberal M.P. for Vancouver, said  in an anti-immigration meeting i n 1906: A race of men who cannot appreciate our mode of l i f e , our mode of education, a l l that goes to make up Canadian citizenship, are not f i t immigrants of this country. 10 No explanation was ever offered as to why immigrants from other countries quite dissimilar to Canada were expected to adjust more readily and make a more valid contribution to society, save for the fact that they were white. In any case, the reaction to the Asian presence was hostile, and was enhanced by lurid accounts i n the newspapers of the 'raging Asiatic menace' living i n hot-beds of immorality and disease and endangering the lives and safety of white women and children. Closing the Floodgates On September 8 t h , 1907, an enormous and ugly r i o t took place i n Vancouver's Chinatown, led by the Asiatic Exclusion League, and was only quell12  ed by the resistance of the Japanese.  With animosities s t i l l at fever  pitch, i t became apparent to the government that what was needed was a con-  -25-  certed, o f f i c i a l , 'catch-all' immigration policy, supplemented by restrictive legislation on a l l other fronts, to limit the participation and autonomy of Asians already i n the province. A series of blatantly discriminatory laws 13 was passed over the next few years. Although Mackenzie King, Deputy Minister of Labour, admitted i n his special report on the 190? riot that " i t was virtual exclusion we would like 14 to have" wishes.  , two constraints militated against the fulfillment of these The primary constraint was a warning by the British Imperial Govern-  ment, which feared that a f u l l ban on East Indian immigration to Canada would inflame the growing Independence movement i n I n d i a . T h e second constraint was the d i f f i c u l t y of overturning previous immigration laws which were designed to attract European immigrants, but which had aot included provisions for prohibiting non-white immigrants. The passage of P.C. 27 on June 8th, 1908, was the response of the Canadian government to the constraint imposed by the British government. This Order i n Council forbade entry to Asians unless they had come by continuous journey on a through ticket."^  I t was passed i n the knowledge that there was  only one steamship company offering through trips from India.  Unofficially,  Mackenzie King ordered the Canadian Pacific Railway company to stop selling through tickets to Indians. In addition, for any Asian who managed to reach Canada, the Federal Government stipulated that "Asiatics" must possess at least $200 before they would be admitted to Canada. ^ The effect of these 1  policies was that only 125 East Indians entered Canada between 1907 and 1912. Altogether, from 1904 to 1914, 5,300 East Indians were admitted, out of an 18 immigration inflow of two and a half million. Three challenges were mounted to the restrictive policies.  The f i r s t  was the arrival of the Monteagle ship i n 1908, which carried a few East Indians.  They were allowed to land after the "continuous journey" Order was  -26-  ruled invalid by the B.C. Supreme Court.  The second challenge came i n 1913  when the 'Panama Maru' arrived with 36 passengers.  Again, the "continuous  journey" and "$200 i n hand" requirements were declared ultra vires for exceeding the powers authorized by the Immigration Act, and again, the Indians were admitted to B.C. The third and most notorious challenge came from the 376 passengers of the *Komagata Maru' i n 1914. However, this time the court up19 held the discriminatory provisions. Channelling 20 For the "strangers within our gates" (ito coin Woodsworth's term  ) al-  ready resident i n B.C., the provincial government concocted a number of discriminatory acts and regulations designed to bar Asians from certain economic and p o l i t i c a l privileges. from voting e l i g i b i l i t y .  The primary means of so doing was to exclude them 21  together with Chinese and Japanese, 22 were excluded from the provincial voters' l i s t i n 1907, while the Municipal Elections Act barred a l l "Chinese, Japanese or other Asiatics" from the mun23 i c i p a l voters' l i s t s .  J  "Hindus",  Because they were not eligible for local voting  rights, Asians were thereby excluded from the federal franchise also. They could not be elected to the provincial legislature, or be nominated for mun24 i c i p a l office or as school trustees, or be called upon to do jury service. Disfranchisement was a powerful weapon indeed, particularly as i t afforded a good excuse not to grant naturalization to any Asian. Angus noted i n 1937 that few certificates had been granted to Orientals since 1923, on account of "the silent but effective discrimination which i s made possible by a dis25 cretionary power...". ^ Apart from their exclusion from the franchise, Asians were also prohibited from certain occupations because non-voters were not eligible to hold 26  hand-loggers licences for cutting timber on Crown lands , or become lawyers  -27-  27  or pharmacists.  In addition, the standard contract of the Department of 28  Public Works required private employers not to hire Asians.  Furthermore,  as the B.G. Human Rights Commission Report notes, the Liquor Control Act of 1936 prevented Asians from obtaining beer licences, and the Trade Licences 2  C  Board Act of 1928 limited the number of business licences granted to Asians. ' Several court cases were fought during this period over the exclusions. However, i n the absence of a clear and articulated B i l l of Rights or Human Rights Code, the justices often 'opted out' by declaring, as i n the Cunningham v. Tomey Homma case, that "the policy or imploicy of such an enactment as that which excludes a particular race from the franchise i s not a topic 30 upon which their Lordships are entitled to consider". Finally, i n 1925, the Minimum Wage Act was passed.  I t would be mistaken  to presume that this law was motivated by any benevolent, altruistic concern for the redress of wrongs against Asians. On the contrary, as Ward notes, i t was publicly understood that the act was intended to reduce Asian employ31 ment.  The logic was as follows* i f employers were forced to pay a minimum  wage, they would, by their 'natural' preference, hire white workers and drop their Asian labour. On the other hand, the guarantee of a minimum wage would encourage white workers to perform the labour currently done by Orientals. This would ensure that these "less desirable" workers, that i s , Chinese, Japanese and East Indians, would be channelled out of well-paying jobs and herded into the only areas of employment not covered by the Act - namely, canning, farming and domestic work. Asians were to be systematically and ruthlessly denied the rights and privileges accorded other immigrants by whatever means provincial and federal governments could find.  I t seemed that  they would be able to maintain a "white Canada forever" as long as popular prejudice prevailed.  -28A Change i n Climate It was not u n t i l after World War II that racial discrimination i n the many areas of legislation against Asians began to change. Whether this was due to the lessons of Nazi genocide, a belated awareness that there were simply not enough Asians i n Canada to make them a real threat, an upturn i n the post-war economy which made cheap labour once again desirable, or a re-appr a i s a l of the values of equality and justice, i s a matter for debate.  What-  ever the reasons, i n 19^7 the Provincial Elections Act regulations were drop32 ped, and i n 19^9 the Municipal Elections Act exclusions were also repealed. In 19^7, Mackenzie King, now Prime Minister, had ruled out "any fund33 amental alteration i n the character of our population",  and i n keeping with  this desire, P.C. 2743 (June,1949) allowed British subjects who met Immigration Act requirements to be landed, "provided that the provisions herein 34 above provided shall not apply to immigrants of any Asiatic race".  But i n  1951. when i t was becoming apparent that the economy was at the beginning of a major boom, a mini-liberalization took place i n immigration policy.  An  agreement was reached with India, Pakistan and Ceylon, establishing that a quota of 150 Indians, 100 Pakistanis and 50 Ceylonese would be admitted to 35 Canada yearly.  J  However, this quota was seldom f i l l e d because, although  there was no shortage of applicants, bureaucratic processing took an inordinately long time, there being only one office i n India (a country over half the size of the United States, with a population greater than Western Europe and North America combined). In 1962, a "colour-blind" immigration policy was introduced, which, however, singled out Asians once again, by restricting the range and number of relatives they could s p o n s o r i  n  1967, new regulations established the  present "points system", under which potential immigrants are allotted points for education, training, language s k i l l s and family connections.  It was  -29-  under the family re-unification provisions that most East Indian immigrants came to Canada, sponsored by relatives here. Ninety per cent of East Indians i n Canada as of 1975 had arrived since 1968, and by 1977, East Indians had 37  become nine per cent of the total immigration flow into Canada. But although these acts were increasingly more 'liberal', there was s t i l l scope for discrimination.  For example, Tom Mclnnes, drafter of the  1910 Federal Immigration Act, wrote i n 1927s ..in a certain section I thought i t expedient to name Chinese and Japanese, and also Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and those of the undesirable r i f f r a f f on the Levant and the Near East who w i l l never work with their hands on land i n Canada while there are Canadian c i t i e s i n which to exercise their cunning, I was not allowed to name even the name [sic] of any of,them i n the Act. But I got around i t with a section empowering the Governor i n Council by proclamation or order to "prohibit, or limit in any number for a stated period, or permanently, the landing i n Canada of immigrants belonging to any nationa l i t y or race, or of immigrants of any specified class or occupation, which by reason of any economic, indust r i a l or other condition temporarily existing i n Canada, may be deemed unsuitable, having regard to the climatic, industrial, social, labour or other conditions or requirements of Canada; or because such immigrants are deemed undesirable owing to their peculiar customs, habits, modes of l i f e and methods of holding property, and because of their probable inability to become readi l y assimilated, or to assume the duties and responsibi l i t i e s of Canadian citizenship within a reasonable time after their entry".......There i s enough dynamite i n that one subsection to keep any undesirable race or class out of Canada, by naming i t , whenever the government at Ottawa has the wish and courage to do so. 38 The passage i n the 1910 Act quoted by Mclnnes i s precisely the wording of Section 57 of the Immigration Act which was s t i l l on the statute books u n t i l 1978, and of which the legal scholar, W.S. Tarnopolsky wrote: ....the possibility of reintroducing a discriminatory immigration policy continues to exist, and the very presence of this provision i n the regulation-making power helps to f o r t i f y the arguments of those who claim that despite the public announcements of Ministers of Immigration, discrimination continues i n the treatment of potential immigrants. 39  -30Finally, i n 1978, the Federal Government introduced a new Immigration Act, which was less overtly colour-conscious than any of the previous acts. The emphasis now i n selection c r i t e r i a i s on family re-unification, concern for refugees, the promotion of Canada's economic, social, demographic and cultural goals, and non-discrimination.  However, i t remains to be seen whe-  ther this policy w i l l have a significant impact on discrimination i n admittance policies. But Surely That Sort of Thing i s i n The Past? With an overwhelming history of often unabashed, sometimes subtle legislative discrimination apparently relegated to distant memory, i t i s tempting to think that ethnic minorities i n Canada are finally free of the nettle of discrimination.  I t i s true that B.C. i s institutionally and legally more  liberalized than ever before, but the following three reports suggest that 40 racial discrimination i s thriving i n B.C.  Fraser Valley College set up an  inquiring body, which reported i n February, 1982.  Its purpose was to dis-  cover how widespread was the incidence of racism and to what extent i t was manifested as discrimination. I t concluded thats ...although quantification was impossible, prejudice appears to be a common ingredient i n the attitudes of many of the community. These attitudes have encouraged a process of stereotyping which helps to provide a rationale for discrimination and thence to a c i r cular reinforcement of the prejudiced attitudes upon which the stereotypes are based. 41 Furthermore, the B.C. Human Rights Commission Report of February, 1983 argued that: ..we are, at best, unwilling perpetrators of a modern 'sanitised', 'no-name' brand of discrimination. 42 Finally, Matsqui-Abbotsford  Community Services prepared a report to the  Secretary of State i n 1982, which also found widespread racism i n the Fraser Valley of B.C., and which made a series of recommendations concerning the  -31Churches, the Police, schools and a l l three levels of government. The report concludes: Racism i s like a strand i n a braided rope. Remove one part of the rope, and the whole i s weakened, but i t does not disappear. Combine racism with greed, opportunism, fear and violence, and one finds a rope of injustice which has become strong indeed. Add to that neglect, benign or otherwise, and the noose of oppression holds the disadvantaged i n a position from which there i s no escape. 43 "Neglect" appears to be the principle behind the more recent forms of legislative discrimination against farmworkers i n British Columbia. Hansard (B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates) began i n 1971,  Since  the question of  inequitable farmworking conditions has been raised by several M.L.A.s, though no legislative action was taken until 1980.  For example, Mrs. P. Jordan  (Social Credit, North Okanagan) expressed concern i n the Legislature i n 1972 that: ...there have been no provisions to assure, by the programmes of the government, that these people [farmworkers] come under the basic minimum wage. We see no assurance that the agricultural [labourers] w i l l i n fact receive a f a i r return for their produce. 44 In 1973, Ms. Rosemary Brown (New Democratic Party, Vancouver-Burrard) c r i t icised the Minimum Wage Act on the grounds that':' . . . i t was not extended to cover a very large group of people who work on farms...In my travels around the province with the Select Standing Committee on Social Welfare and Education, we were continually made aware of the hardship that i s caused..because they [farmworkers] were not covered by this legislation, were offered less than the minimum wage and so were unable to demand at least the minimum wage, because they were not covered by the Act. 45 During the 1975 debates over B.C.'s new Labour Code. Mr. D.A.  Anderson  (Liberal), had urged the government to include farmworkers i n the Code: It's high time that agricultural workers were treated like other workers..[because contractors] are exploiting very very badly certainly a number of people who are forced to work through the contract system. 46  -32The government meanwhile, did extend the right to unionize to farmworkers, although this was not seen as an immediate possibility.  Mr. Steves (Social  Credit) noteds Actually, as far as the organization of farmworkers i s concernedi..to organize a union takes time. I don't see any on the horizon at the present time so I don't think anybody really has to worry about i t for a while u n t i l this happens. 47 On April 10th, 1975, the Select Standing Committee on Labour and Justice, which had been commissioned to investigate conditions i n the B.C. farmworking community, submitted i t s report to the B.C. Legislature.  Chaired by M.L.A.  Colin Gabelmann, the Committee had conducted province-wide hearings, accepted many briefs and travelled extensively i n order to make an assessment of the situation.  The Committee noted that farmworkers were excluded without just-  i f i c a t i o n from nine major acts.  These were: the Annual and General Holidays  Act; the Control of the Employment of Children Act; the Hours of Work Act; the Employment Agencies Act; the Factories Act; the Maternity Protection Act; the Payment of Wages Act; the Truck Act; and the Minimum Wage Act. The Committee could see no reason why the protection afforded other workers with respect to payment of wages, maternity benefits, licencing of contractors, the Factories Act, the Truck Act and employment of children, could not and should not be immediately extended to farmworkers. As far as the piece-rate system was concerned (see Chapter Three), i n favour of which the B.C. Feder48 ation of Agriculture had strenuously argued,  the Committee saw "no objec-  tion to the maintenance of piece-rates as an incentive system above and beyond the minimum standard which should be guaranteed to a l l workers". The Committee also recommended extension of coverage of the Workers' Compensation Act to farmworkers. Gabelmann stated that there was "no justification for exploitation", and noted that B.C. (and most of Canada) i s at variance with International Labour Organization conventions, not to mention with B.C.'s  and Canada's own Human Rights Codes."'  7  As well as evidence that the Legislature (and therefore the government) was aware of the farmwork issue since (at least) the early 1970's, there i s also evidence that legislators were, and are, aware of the ethnic composition of the labour force.  Karen Sanford (N.D.P., Comox), stated i n the Legisla-  ture in 1979 that farmworkers were being exploited i n B .C., and that the f a i l ure to include them under W.C.B. regulations amounted to an "ethnic slur"."^ During the second reading of the Employment Standards B i l l . Sanford noted that: ...very often these farm labourers do not speak English. Most of them are East Indians, and most of them are being exploited by the way the present system operates....1 think the Minister [of Labour] i s aware of i t . I think the Minister has had preliminary reports. I think that he has enough information at this stage to take some action which would alleviate the exploitation currently taking place. 51 The Employment Standards Act of 1980 represented the Social Credit Government's response to pressure from members of the Legislature, as well as from the Canadian Farmworkers Union. I t was intended to 'clean up' the nine previous acts which had been cited by the 1975 Committee as discriminating without justification against farmworkers. For the f i r s t time, the Act provided coverage for maternity protection, payment of wages and juvenile employment. I t also required, for the f i r s t time, that farm labour contractors 52 should be licenced, and i n some cases bonded.  However, Colin Gabelmann,  after congratulating the government on being only "five years behind the times", c r i t i c i s e d the Act i n the Legislature, on the grounds that i t s t i l l leaves significant 'loopholes': ..The Minister [of Labour] has hailed this legislation as a breakthrough for farmworkers and domestics because i t now covers them. That's not true, Mr. Speaker. The Minister, through Order-in-Council, can have the Cabinet exempt..farmworkers..should he choose. There are no limitations, no rules; nor i s i t even implied that they w i l l be developed i n the Regulations. That i s i f , i n fact, the regulations proceed to cover these people... Judging by the comments that float around these buildings and...  -34i n this province, even i f the Minister i s i n favour of making sure that farmworkers and domestics are f u l l y covered, he w i l l lose that fight i n Cabinet... 53 The 1981 Regulations appear to prove Gabelmann fight. Section 3 (4) of the Regulations specifies minimum piece-rates for a range of fourteen crops, but denies the minimum hourly rates to "farmworkers who are employed on a 54 piece-work basis to hand-harvest...vegetables or berry crops".  1  Section 4,  respecting general holidays, likewise does not apply to "an employee employed 55 sin primarily to harvest f r u i t and berry crops", ^ while Section 9 similarly exempts farmworkers from set hours of work and overtime payments. 56 Whatever the expediency of these exemptions i s deemed to be, the government claims to have redressed the balance with the Employment Standards Act and the 1981 amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act. In March 1982,  the  Workers' Compensation Board's Chairman, Art Gibbons, announced that coverage would apply to farmworkers from April 1983*  Farm employers would be required 57  to register with the Board and pay assessments of 3# per $100  of payroll.  They would also, for the f i r s t time, be obliged to comply with health and 58 safety regulations.  However, i n March 1983,  just one month before the reg-  ulations were to become operative, and coincidentally, two weeks before the Premier called an election, the Minister announced that the plans were to be scrapped.  Instead, a farm safety agency i s to be set up to promote and im-  prove health and safety through education programmes aimed at farmers and workers. This leaves the farmworkers to "once again depend on the goodwill 59 of the farmers",  which has not proved reliable i n the past.  Given that the government offered no explanation for this reversal, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to ascertain why the f i r s t scheme was at one point judged to be feasible, and then suddenly was rescinded.  One explanation would be that the  original modifications were introduced i n order to pacify the pressure groups opposed to government policy, and then, with an election planned for May  1983,  -35the reversal was designed to woo the farm vote.  This was the explanation  offered by the N.D.P. Agriculture C r i t i c , Barbara Wallace, who charged that the decision was a timely ploy i n the electioneering campaign of the Social Credit government: In their haste to buy the farm vote, have granted a farm safety agency i n ations, with utter disregard for the both farm labourers and farmers.  Socred Ministers lieu of regulconsequences to 60  Summary British Columbia i s essentially a white society which, historically, has wanted to benefit economically from cheap non-white labour, without wanting to live side-by-siide :wi,th,or include i n i t s social order, those individuals who provide that labour.  This attitude resulted i n a wide range of eff-  orts to insulate the non-white population, by limiting their numbers, their citizenship, the jobs they could hold and their p o l i t i c a l voice.  As the t o l -  erance of the white majority increased over time, various control measures were relaxed.  Yet, i n relation to at least one section of the immigrant  labour force, namely the farmworkers, governments acquiesce i n the persistence of inequitable and deplorable working (and living) conditions, which could be rectified by legislation. The continued exclusion of farmworkers from labour legislation can be seen as a matter of p o l i t i c a l expediency. Farmers represent a sizeable voting bloc, (both i n the predominance of rural ridings and i n their traditional conservative party allegiance) and a significant lobbying force (being major suppliers of food and export goods). Their representative organization, the B.C. Federation of Agriculture, has expressed an interest i n the continued exclusion of farmworkers from minimum wage legislation. ^  On the other  62 hand, the farmworkers, only recently permitted by law to unionize (in 1973) f  -36often isolated by language, culture and working hours, and scattered throughout  numerous ridings, do not have the numbers, organization or the 'political  clout' of the B,C. Federation of Agriculture. Although this power imbalance could, as mentioned above, explain government decisions regarding farmworkers, the following factors show that B.C. governments have been aware of the situation, but have nonetheless been w i l l ing to perpetuate discrimination: 1. The living conditions of farmworkers are so bad as to be shocking to the public and to the members of various government investigatory committees. 2..Their working conditions are poor enough to be identified as "exploitative" by several M.L.A.s. 3. Farmworkers have been consistently singled out and specifically excluded in B.C.'s labour legislation, to date. 4. Recent B.C. governments, by the commissioning of several investigatory studies, have demonstrated an awareness of the quality of conditions i n farmwork. 5. The committee members of these committees have declared that f u l l coverage of farmworkers under the law i s both justified and feasible. 6. Recent labour legislation, to date, has withheld f u l l coverage of farmworkers, despite the findings, recommendations and f e a s i b i l i t y studies of their committees. 7. New legislation has demonstrated a recognition of the legitimacy of farmworkers' grievances, and an acceptance of governmental responsibility for the  improvement of farmworking conditions through the law.  8. This new legislation took ten years to enact, from the f i r s t available records of governmental cognizance of farmworking conditions, and six years after the reports of the Standing Committee on Labour and Justice. 9. A l l of the recent legislation regarding farmworkers contains various escape  -37clauses, which effectively preclude any assurance of the maintenance of protection for farmworkers. As can be seen, i n view of their mandate to represent a l l sectors of the population, ensure f a i r treatment of a l l individuals and uphold basic human rights insofar as i t i s within their power, the government of B.C. has been notably remiss regarding the farmworkers.  Regardless of the ethnic com-  position of this labour force, the limited willingness of the government to rectify their situation, once i t had been made known, would demand an explanation.  Given the fact that farmworkers are predominantly East Indian i n the  Fraser Valley, and are being so deliberately disadvantaged, the fact of ethnicity as a causal element i n this persistent discrimination cannot be denied.  -38Footnotes 1.  Norm Buchignani, "Research on South Asians i n Canada: Retrospect and Prospect", (Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, unpublished, 1983), P . l .  2.  Rajani Kanta Das, "Hindustani Workers on the Pacific Coast", (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1923), pp.23-27.  3.  R.A. Button, "Sikh Settlement i n the Lower Mainland of B.C.", (B.A. essay, Geography Department, University of British Columbia, 1964), p.6.  4.  See Peter Ward, White Canada Forever. (mcGill, Queens' University Press, 1978), passim.  5.  Gerard Mare,"Political Adaptation and Change i n the Vancouver Sikh and the Vancouver Chinese Communities: A Comparative Perspective", (Honours Essay, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, 1979), p.12.  6.  Norm Buchignani, "The P o l i t i c a l Organization of South Asians i n Canada: 1904-1920", i n J . Dahlie and T. Fernando, Ethnicity. Power and Politics in Canada. (Methuen, Toronto, 198l), p . l .  7.  Ward, op. c i t . , p.79«  8.  Calvin Sandborn, "The History of Legislative Discrimination Against East Indians i n B.C.", (unpublished, Spring 1980), p.3.  9.  Quoted i n Ward, op. c i t . , p.83.  10. The World. Oct. 19th,  1906.  11. Ward, op. c i t . , p.142. 12. See Ward, Chapter 6, for more details. 13. See Sandborn, op. c i t . , for a l i s t of a l l the discriminatory laws of the period. 14. Quoted by Sandborn, op. c i t . , p.5« '15.  Buchignani's "Political Organization of South Asians i n Canada" (cf. footnote #6 above) f o r a very good discussion of the revolutionary Ghadr Party tradition i n B.C., and other East Indian p o l i t i c a l responses/organizations i n Canada.  16. Sandborn, op. c i t . , p.6. The Superintendent of Immigration had made i t clear that the order was only intended against "really undesirable immigrants" . 17. Sandborn, op. c i t . , p.7. 18. Ward, op. c i t . , p.78.  -3919. See Sandborn, op. c i t . , pp.8-16 for much greater detail. 20. J.S. Woodsworth, Strangers Within Our Gates.(University of Toronto Press, 1972). 21. "Hindus" were defined as "any native of India not born of Anglo-Saxon parents'. Apart from the fact that a l l immigrants to Canada from India were Punjabi Sikhs, this definition meant that any person born i n India of Italian, Dutch, Turkish,Russian or any other parents was automatica l l y a "Hindu". 22. The Provincial Elections Act. S.B.C.. 1907,ch.l6, s.2-3. 23. The Municipal Elections Act. S.B.C., 1908, ch.14, s.13. 24. R.S.B.C. 1924, ch.45, s.27{ R.S.B.C.1924, ch.75, s.42: R.S ,B.C .1926,chi 179, s.37; R.S.B.C. 1924, ch.123, s . 4 . 25. H.F. Angus, "The Legal Status i n B.C. of Residents of Oriental Races and Their Descendants", i n The Legal Status of Aliens i n Pacific Countries, edited by N.A.M. McKenzie, (Oxford University Press, London, 1937),p.86. 26. Ibid., p.82. 27. Ibid., p.83. 28. Ibid., p.82. 29. Ibid., p.84. 30. W. Tarnopolsky. "The Control of Racial Discrimination i n Canada", i n Freedom. (1979), pp293-294. 31. Ward, op. c i t . , p.137. 32. Sandborn, pp."cit., p.21. 33* Quoted by John Wood, "East Indians and Canada's New Immigration Policy", i n Canadian Public Policy. Autumn, 1978, p.550. 34. Quoted by Sandborn, op. c i t . , p.24. 35. Ibid., p.24. 36. Freda Hawkins, Immigration and the Rise-of Multiculturallsm. (Copp Clark Publishing, Toronto, 1975), P-72. 37. Buchignani, "Research on South Asians i n Canada", (cf. footnote #l),p.94. 38. Tom Mclnnes, The Oriental Occupation of B.C.. (Sun Publishing, Vancouver, 1927), P.122. 39. W.S. Tarnopolsky. The Canadian B i l l of Rights. (McClelland and Stewart Ltd., Toronto, 1975), p.294.  -4040.  'Racism', as used here, refers to a negative pre-judgement of individuals on the basis of race. 'Discrimination' i s the manifestation of this usua l l y unfounded predisposition. Personal discrimination refers to acts taken by individuals and can range from 'name-calling' to refusing to employ persons of the group which i s the object of racially-based hatred. Institutional discrimination refers to practices which are sanctioned by and are integral parts of institutional arrangements. Examples would be discriminatory wage structures, hiring and f i r i n g practices, or any b u i l t i n mechanism i n the various social, cultural, economic and p o l i t i c a l institutions of a society. Legislative discrimination i s that enshrined i n the law, by which some groups are singled out f o r unfair and unequal treatment, and are exempted from the enjoyment of the same rights and p r i v i l eges as other.members of a society.  41. Colin Rldgewell et. a l . , "Report of the Task Force on Racism i n the Fraser Valley", (Fraser Valley College, February, 1983), P«59« 42. "What This Country Did To Us I t Did To I t s e l f " , A Report of the B.C. Human Rights Commission, February, 1983, P«15« 43. Walter Bergen, " f i n a l Report to the Secretary of States Racism Awareness Project", (unpublished paper, sponsored by Matsqui-Abbotsford Community Services, 1982), p.40. 44. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. October 23, 1972s 1568. 45. B.C. legislative Assembly Debates. 3rd Session, 1973« 126. 46. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. 5th Session, 1975s 3977. 47. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. 5th Session, 1975s 4037. 48. In fact, the B.C. Federation of Agriculture has considerable power and influence over pertinent legislation. For example, the Honourable Mr. Stupich said i n the Assembly i n 1973; "...there was some disagreement within the Federation i t s e l f as to whether they wanted the regulation that says the minimum wage legislation does not apply to agriculture! whether or not they wanted that taken out. The current thinking i s that they're a b i t reluctant to have i t removed", (p.928). 49. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. Feb.-June, 1975$ 1225-30. 50. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. 1979, Q.343: 934-935* 51. Ibid. 52. The Employment Standards Act. Part 9, Sections 60-70. 53. B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. 2nd Session, 1980s4026. 54. Employment Standards Act Regulations. Section 3 ( 4 ) . 55. Employment Standards Act Regulations. Section 4 .  -4156.  Employment Standards Act Regulations. Section 9«  57.  I t had previously been 6%, when the scheme was operated on the basis of voluntary 'opting i n ' . However, as the government has now chosen to rescind the planned decrease to 3% and participation w i l l remain voluntary, most farmers w i l l continue to be discouraged from opting i n to the Workers' Compensation scheme by the high costs of participation.  58.  Health and safety regulations have not been rigorously articulated for application to farms and i t seems unlikely that the proposed farm safety agency w i l l be given any power to enforce i t s guidelines.  59«  Raj Chouhan, from a speech delivered at a fund-raising benefit at the University of British Columbia on April 9th, 1983.  60.  Quoted i n the Vancouver Sun. March 14th, 1983.  61.  See footnote #48.  62.  The right of farmworkers to unionize was granted by the 1973 Labour Code, which, incidentally, was passed by the only New Democratic Party government British Columbia has ever had.  -42CHAPTER THREE POVERTY IN THE VALLEY OF PLENTY The .previous chapter concentrated on the historical discrimination levelled against both farmworkers and East Indians i n general. I t was suggested that although i t could not categorically be proven that the farmworkers' exclusion from certain protective legislation was motivated by racism, the l a tter i s certainly a contributory factor.  Neglect, benign or otherwise, was  posited as the principle behind recent provincial governments' treatment of farmworkers, while i t was further argued that such 'neglect' amounts to tacit consent to discrimination. However, such an inference implies that there i s a specific, coherent and concerted policy regarding farmworkers, as there has been in the past towards East Indians. I t i s doubtful that this i s the case today. wards farmworkers can best be described as uncoordinated.  Policy to-  There are several  ministries which have jurisdiction over farmworkers, including those of Labour, Health, Agriculture, Transport, Housing and Human Resources.  In some  cases i t i s not clear which ministry i s accountable for what policies, and as a result, the ascription of responsibility i s d i f f i c u l t . The purpose of this chapter i s to identify and discuss the major issues, or more accurately, the grievances of B.C. farmworkers, which form the basis of the Canadian Farmworkers Union's platform. I t i s argued that the inequitable conditions prevalent i n agricultural employment are exacerbated by the apparent unwillingness of the Social Credit government to synchronize interministerial policies and delineate clear areas of jurisdiction.  Such unclar-  i t y can be said to demonstrate, i n varying degrees, ignorance, disinterest and low prioritization of the farmwork issue. Although there have been some changes i n the four years since the beginning of farmworker organization, i t i s useful to present the situation as i t  -43-  existed prior to 1979, in order to appreciate f u l l y the grievances of the province's farm labourers.  I t must be added that many of the conditions des-  cribed here s t i l l prevail today. The Imbalance of Power It has already been pointed out that British Columbia's seasonal farm labourers are drawn from  various ethnic minorities. More specifically, i n  the Fraser Valley, about ninety per cent are of East Indian origin.  Of these  some sixty-five per cent are women. Apart from the relative subordination of the East Indian minority as against the dominant white society, these women are rendered even more powerless by the system of economic, social and cultural relations practised in the Valley. There are an estimated one hundred and f i f t y East Indian growers in the Fraser Valley, the majority of whom produce f r u i t , berries and cole crops.^" Likewise, of the thirty-five or so contractors, only two are Chinese, the remainder being of East Indian origin.  This commonality of language and cult-  ural heritage acts at once to provide both a relatively isolated working environment and a major tool of exploitation. Women in employment have traditionally been exploited, regardless of ethnicity, and East Indian women farmworkers are by no means exempt from the tendency. Their access to information regarding rights and obligations i s often severely limited: f i r s t , because of their isolation on farms during the harvesting season (where many live for four or five months a year); second, beause of the lack of information from Employment and Immigration, which i s not available i n their f i r s t languages; and third, because the farmers act, not only as 'protectors' (from other men'.), but as interpreters and filterers of information pertaining to matters such as employment, housing, payment of wages and U.1.C. contributions. This situation gives East Indian farmers and  -44contractors significant control over the workers as they can regulate the degree and type of contact with the 'outside world*.  This regulation often  extends to driving the farmworkers into town on Sundays to shop i n stores where the farmer or contractor has a 'deal' with the proprietor for a percentage of the profits. In addition, the traditional subjugation of women to men within Indian society acts to reinforce the inequitable power relationship.  The more pat-  ernalistic structure of working relations practised by East Indians i s a formidable tool of exploitation which may be denied to white farmers, who have a different tradition of employer-employee interaction.  This suggestion i s  not to imply that East Indians are somehow more exploitative, or more ruthless i n their exploitation than white farmers (assuming the relationship i s such) . The point i s simply that i t i s reasonable to expect commonality of language and a set of shared cultural traditions to render control of the workforce more practicable.  This expectation i s certainly confirmed by the  relatively greater success the C.F.U. has had i n organizing white-owned farms, which lack the rather pervasive customs of East Indian modes of control. The Grievances - Living Conditions There are two major areas of discontent as far as farmworkers are concerned.  The f i r s t i s living conditions, the second, working conditions.  Straddling the two i s the issue of pesticides and their abuse.  Pesticides  affect workers both at work and i n their living quarters (for those who live on the farms during the season), and many workers have reported being sprayed i n the fields and i n the vicinity of the cabins, though more w i l l be said of this later. Farmwork i s seasonal. During the peak of the season, some eight thousand people come to harvest the twenty-six thousand acres of berry fields i n  -45the Fraser Valley.  About half of these workers come from as far as Prince  George, Williams Lake, Campbell River, Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Vancouver Island.  These migratory workers must live on the farms for the duration of  the harvesting season.  Living quarters usually consist of converted barn-  s t a l l s and dilapidated outbuildings.  Take, for example, the case of a sixty-  seven year old farmworker, Pritan Clair, as reported i n the Vancouver Sun: She and her seventy-two year old husband, Sadhu, live in a twelve by sixteen foot, unpainted, unventilated room, the roof of which slopes from a low of three and a half, to a high of seven feet. I t i s l i t by a single naked light-bulb and furnished with two iron-frame beds and a single table. The farmer who owns the converted chicken-coop housing the Clairs and thirty-eight other pickers (and which contains only two toilets, one sink and no shower) holds back part of their piece-meal wage as "rent" equivalent- i n the case of the Clairs, with both picking ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week, comes to over $600 a month. Assuming similar conditions for the coop's other residents, the farmer retains some $12,000 a month i n already paltry wages for accomodation which, by urban standards, ranks somewhere between a slum and the gutter. By farmwork standards, the Clairs* room i s slightly above the norm, which frequently precludes running water and often crams up to four adults i n an 8'xlO' shack. I t i s a heinous irony that the more the field-hands pick, the higher i s their rent. 2 It must be noted that this example, while similar to the situations of many farmworkers interviewed, does not represent an absolute standard. Some farm buildings have been better adapted than others and do have adequate sanitary f a c i l i t i e s .  Some farmers are concerned with the health and safety of  their employees and have taken steps to improve the f a c i l i t i e s .  For example,  at B & G Bros. Farms i n Abbotsford (operated by Gurnaib Brar and Mohinder G i l l ) , a complex of twelve new units was built i n 1981.  They were made from  concrete and fire-proof gyproc and contain smoke-detectors, hot-plates and fridges.  These units cost $3,000 each, without government subsidies. Sim-  i l a r l y , Jagir Bathe's Abbotsford farm has twenty new units with aluminum siding and roofing.  While these buildings hardly constitute luxury, they are  -46inhabitable, clean and reasonably sized, and are a vast improvement over previous quarters. Yet modern f a c i l i t i e s such as these are by no means common. Farmers are apt to point out that these buildings are not the farmworkers permanent residences.  They see themselves as providers of a service, i n the absence of  which farmworkers would be forced to pay rents elsewhere, and face the added inconvenience of having to travel to work each day.  Whatever the merits of  this argument, farmers have l i t t l e incentive to improve their 'services' without 'persuasion' by health authorities or coercion by law, especially as the government has not offered to subsidize costs. A tragic incident on July 16th,  1980 highlighted the inadequacies of  the housing situation. Sukhdeep Madhar, a seven-month old infant, drowned i n a bucket of drinking water after rolling off a bunk-bed. The bucket contained drinking water because no potable water was piped to the converted horses t a l l where her mother was living.  In addition, the incident raised ques-  tions about the lack of day-care f a c i l i t i e s on the farms. An estimated five hundred children accompany their mothers to the fields of the Fraser Valley each year. Approximately one week after the death of Sukhdeep Madhar, three young boys (Gurgit Pehatta,8, his 9 year old brother, Sumin and Boota Bassi, aged 10) drowned i n an Aldergrove gravel pit while their parents worked in a 3 f i e l d nearby. The Coroner investigating Sukhdeep's death likened the living conditions if.  on the farm to "Nazi concentration camps".  On August 21st 1980, the Coron-  er's jury recommended that legislation be "immediately initiated", empowering the Ministry of Health to establish minimum living conditions for farmworkers housed in Fraser Valley cabins.  Although i t i s s t i l l a "matter of interpret-  ation" whether farm accomodation i s included under industrial work-camp regulations i n B.C.,  the jury called for "immediate inspections" by civic f i r e ,  -47-  health and building o f f i c i a l s , and recommended that these inspections be conducted regularly. However, despite these recommendations, there i s s t i l l some confusion as to how they can be implemented and by whom. A Matsqui Police Constable, John Spring, had testified at the hearings that as many as seventy people lived i n the horse-barn on Jasmer Braich's Glearbrook farm, and one building inspector, Harold Neuman, reported that the building was much below the standards required for human habitation.  Yet the chief building inspector for Abbotsford,  B i l l Horn, maintained that "there i s not any serious problems Esic] with farm camps right now".^ Horn did stress that he was only concerned with new buildings and not with existing sub-standard accomodation. The sticky question of who i s responsible remains.  To date, the promises  of the Ministries of Health and Labour to look into living conditions ahve yielded no known studies, no recommendations and thus, no changes.  Cabins  are seldom, i f ever, inspected, partly because, even i f inspectors do want to survey premises, many camps are not recognizable as living quarters from the outside.  But the main problem i s for farmworkers. Inspections can only be  made after a complaint has been lodged and i t i s incumbent upon farmworkers to make formal complaints.  Several farmworkers interviewed cited fear of  harrassment, retribution and even dismissal as constraints against reporting unsatisfactory conditions. The C.F.U. has long argued that the government need not create new regulations for farm housing.  Calvin Sandborn (of Farmworkers' Legal Services)  notes that the "Industrial Camp" regulations of 1946 apply to farm camps,and that health o f f i c i a l s admit as much, though the Ministry has adopted an i n formal policy of not enforcing the law on farms.  g  Sandborn urges the B.C. o  provincial government to "stop breaking i t s own law"^ and enforce Section 2 of the Regulations for Sanitary Control of Industrial Camps, amended by  -48Order i n Council 2?80, December I960, which states: The application of these regulations shall apply to lumber camps, mining camps, sawmills, railway construction camps, canneries and other similar places where labour i s employed throughout the province. 10 The Union argues that farm labour camps can be considered as "other simi l a r places". In February 1980, the B.C. Farmworkers Organizing Committee presented a brief to Jack Heinrich, the incumbent Minister of Labour, concerning nine recommendations for provisions which were already enforced i n the lumber and mining i n d u s t r i e s . ^  However, nothing seems to have come of i t .  But where the provincial government has been lax, municipal governments have tried to make amends. In January 1982, the municipality of Matsqui, where Sukhdeep Madhar was drowned, formulated a by-law "to establish standards for seasonal full-time farm help accommodation to protect the health and 12 safety of the occupants".  The main provisions of the by-law concerned gar-  bage disposal, maintenance, minimum floor space, ceiling heights and ventilation, cooking f a c i l i t i e s and the licensing of owners of such accommodation. Although the by-law did not provide for regular inspection of housing, failed to guarantee heating for winter workers and required only half the sleeping space required by U.S. farmworker law, i t was a step i n the right direction (as far as farmworkers are concerned).  However, i t has not been approved by 13  the Health Minister, so the by-law cannot become operative. In a submission to to B.C. Human Rights Commission, Charan G i l l noted that i n California there are twenty-five state-owned migrant family centres operating i n rural areas.  He also noted that the U.S. Federal Department of  Labour issued rules and regulations for housing for agricultural labour i n 14 March 1980, a law which i s enforceable i n every state.  Charan G i l l , Secret-  ary of the C.F.U., recommended that the B.C. government "should build government-subsidized public housing on Crown land, managed by  i t s own administra-  tive machinery i n order to comply with the c r i t e r i a of existing legislation  -4915 of the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Housing". The idea of placing the housing blocks on Crown land came from G i l l ' s conviction that the only way to eliminate "the feudal style of employer-employee relationships practised by the growers" i s to take the workers away "from the direct  influence  of the growers". Again, the government has yet to respond to this suggestion. Because of the uncertainty concerning which department, ministry or . agency i s responsible for enforcing health and safety regulations on farms, an inter-ministerial committee was set up i n July 1981.  I t comprised the  Ministries of Health, Human Resources, Agriculture, Labour, Fire and Municipal Affairs.  Yet very l i t t l e i s known, either of the proceedings of the committ-  ee's meetings, or of their results.  Andy Hindley, Chairman of the Committee,  announced that recommendations had been sent to the Ministers concerned, though he "couldn't even guess" when the Ministers would make a decision. He added that "...from our point of view, public health, working on stopping the spread of communicable diseases...we don't see that much of a problem".^ If the public health authorities are only concerned with stopping the spread of communicable diseases, then they are not concerned with taking preventive measures against the many diseases to which farmworkers are prone. Examples include everything from the common cold (a consequence of working long hours in wet conditions), to intestinal and stomach disorders (often contracted from unclean drinking water) to a variety of diseases associated with exposure to pesticides. These include lung and heart diseases, skin rashes, eye infections, incremental deafness and even cancer.  In terms of  the Ministry of Health's c r i t e r i a , exposure to such diseases or illnesses does not amount to a public health hazard, as long as they are not communicable to the rest of the community. In February 1981, the C.F.U. asked the Ministry of Health whether i t could submit recommendations regarding health and safety, but only received  -5017 a letter from the Ministry acknowledging i t s request. ' This i s consistent with the government's reticence and inaction regarding the inclusion of farmworkers under any protective legislation. Farmwork May Be Dangerous to Your Health In an article entitled "Racism and Labours The Struggle of B.C.'s Farmworkers", Ronald Labonte wrotes The lack of enforced or explicit regulations controlling farmworker housing and the illness consequent to such septic squalor pales i n comparison to the perils lurking i n the f i e l d s . Farmwork i s the third most dangerous occupation i n Canada, a fact which may come as a surprise to those of us equating our backyard veggie patches with' a feisty cardiopulmonary workout rather than to an exercise i n dying younger. 18 Apart from threats to health such as those associated with twelve hour daily stints of stooping, plucking, l i f t i n g and toting ('flats' weigh between sixteen and twenty pounds and must be carried long distances to the farmer's weigh station), farmworkers also face defective farm equipment, unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation, overcrowded housing and overcrowded contract trucks (for those who 'commute' from Vancouver). In a statement released by Farmworkers' Legal Services, Calvin Sandborn noted that according to the provincial Department of Vital Statistics, at least twenty-three B.C. farmworkers were k i l l e d i n farm accidents i n 1977*  In 1976, sixteen people died; i n  1978, nine; i n 1979, eleven; and i n 1980, five.  This brings the total to  sixty-four deaths between 1976 and 1980, and the figure does not include 19 transportation accidents or long-term occupational diseases. In Ontario, i t i s estimated that one worker per week i s k i l l e d performing farmwork. Further, a Saskatchewan study found that farmworkers have a much greater incidence of poor hearing, speech defects, respiratory diseases and back problems than the general population, divided into occupational caton egories.  In addition, an American study of orchardists i n the Okanagan  -51area of Washington State found that farmworkers had extraordinarily high rates of lung and intestinal cancer, pernicious anaemia, cerebral embolism and thrombosis, and concluded that there was a definite connexion with the 21 use and abuse of pesticides.  According to the California Department of Ind-  u s t r i a l Relations, the toxic chemical injury rate of Californian farmworkers i s more than double the overall injury rate of a l l other workers i n various 22 industries i n the state.  Although there are few similar Canadian studies,  the Matsqui-Abbotsford Community Services conducted a survey i n October 1982, the major findings of which are contained i n Appendix A (page 123)• The hazard of the uncontrolled use of pesticides on B.C. farms i s one area i n which farmwork outweighs mining and logging on the danger scales. Pesticides are no longer used just to k i l l insects, but also to k i l l birds, fungus, rodents, f i s h and plants.  There are chemicals to speed up the growth  of crops and chemicals to slow growth down. They can have both acute and chronic health effects i n humans. Acute effects include everything from skin rashes, dizziness and vomiting to paralysis and, according to The Farmworker. 24 even death.  Chronic effects include liver damage, cancer and the birth  of still-born or deformed children. Varieties of pesticides have been modified over the last f i f t y years, each i n i t i a l l y acclaimed as 'safe', and many subsequently discovered to be far from safe.  Currently, although organochlorines are now banned (because  they were found to be causes of cancer), there are s t i l l some i n use on B.C. farms.  Today, organophosphates are used to k i l l insects and, on average,  their acute effects are even more severe and dangerous than organochlorines. They attack the nervous system and can cause paralysis. The $250 million a year Canadian pesticide industry obviously has a vested interest i n selling i t s wares, and has sophisticated and persuasive techniques, whereby farmers are 'convinced' that without pesticides they would  -52suffer heavy crop losses.  Thousands of tons of toxic substances are dumped  over the fields and plants of Canada every year, with apparently l i t t l e or no regard for their effects on workers.  Many farm labourers have reported  the spraying of fields while they and their children were i n them, and reports of workers entering fields while the a i r i s s t i l l a vaporous cloud are not unusual. The recent investigation into Industrial Bio-Test Labor!tories (I.B.T.) i n the United States which resulted i n thirty criminal indictments for fraud, raised many questions about the assurances of 'experts' that certain pesticides are safe.  At least 97 chemicals listed on the f a l s i f i e d I.B.T. data  25 are s t i l l allegedly i n use i n Canada. For example, the most widely used J  fungicide i n Canada, Captan, was declared safe by I.B.T. - 300,000 kgs. were 26 used last year on corn, potatoes and berries.  Yet Captan has been proved to  cause cancer, birth defects and genetic damage i n laboratory animals and i s l i k e l y to do the same i n humans. As Reasons, Ross and Faterson point out, the government, with i t s tendency to "err on the side of business" where occupational or environmental health issues are concerned, has chosen to phase 27 out the use of Captan over several years.  This leaves farmworkers to con-  tinue exposing themselves to chemicals "whose testing has been specious at best".  2 8  The recent death of Jarnail Singh Deol lends ammunition to the case of farmworkers and their supporters. Deol, a twenty-year-old farmworker, died on October 3rd 1982, after swallowing a lethal dose of the toxic pesticide, Monitor, at Mound Farm, Surrey.  Although there i s some suggestion that Deol  committed suicide, Dr. B i l l Meekison, director of the Boundary Health Unit i n Surrey, was convinced that Deol's death was due to toxic psychosis induced by pesticides.  Deol had been admitted to hospital three times i n Septem-  ber, and five other farmworkers had been treated for similar symptoms (nausea,  -53sweating and clammy skin). These symptoms are a l l consistent with Meekison's 29 suggestion of gradual and incremental poisoning over a long period. As mentioned above, farmworkers are not covered by the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act.  Only some workers - those under labour con-  tractors-are covered, but only 5% of growers have opted into the scheme, which i s s t i l l operated on a voluntary basis. Farmworkers are also denied the protection of health and safety regulations, as i n B.C. these regualtions are included with workers' compensation i n the same act, and both are administered by the Workers' Compensation Board. This situation compounds the suffering of workers who are not only vulnerable to a greater number and range of injuries and diseases than other B.C. workers, but are also denied remuneration for occupational hazards. Constitutional protection i n the U.S. i s far ahead of Canada's i n this respect.  For example, i n the case of Guiterez v. Glaser Crandall Company  [202 NW 2D 786 (1972)], the Supreme Court of Michigan struck down a law that denied workers' compensation coverage to seasonal farmworkers. One of the Supreme Court Justices stated that "such treatment i s clearly discriminatory and has no rational basis".  Another judge held that the separate c l a s s i f i c -  ation of farmworkers was "inherently suspect" because most farmworkers are from minority ethnic backgrounds. Sandborn noted that i n 1952,  and again i n 1956,  two Royal Commissions  into Workers' Compensation recommended that farmworkers be covered, but to date they are s t i l l bereft of the insurance and safety protections offered 30 by the scheme.  Given the recent example of "back-tracking" by the Minister  of Labour (Bob McClelland), and the Social Credit Government's renewed mandate of May 5th, 1983, i t seems highly unlikely that the government w i l l be willing to revert back to the promises of March 1982. The Vancouver and District Labour Council had urged an investigation  -54-  into Deol's death i n November 1982, with a view to bringing i n regulations 31 to control the use of pesticides throughout British Columbia.  In addition,  the C.F.U. released a report in October 1982, which claimed that there i s widespread ignorance among B.C. farmers about the safe use of pesticides. Having interviewed two hundred and seventy-two farmworkers i n the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and the Okanagan, the authors of the report recommended that the W.C.B. implement strong regulations, along with an education and training programme. I t looks now as i f the only positive step taken w i l l be the implementation of the latter, while the C.F.U. argues that although education w i l l undoubtedly cut the number of accidents, those injuries that do 32 occur regardless w i l l go uncompensated. As Ronald Labonte points out i n his cited articles A dreary irony of a l l this i s that, while farmworkers are legally ineligible for compensation for injuries suffered from pesticide use, farmers receive legally required compensation for crop losses due to pesticide overkill. The Grievances - Working Conditions The area of discontent concerning living conditions discussed above i s not the main focus of attention for the C .F,U., and does not appear to be a focus of the Social Credit government's attention at a l l . applies to fewer than .half of B.C.'s seasonal labourers.  The housing issue But the issues of  pesticide hazards and of general working conditions apply to a l l farmworkers, and have consequently been the predominant focal point of C.F.U. agitation. Some of the conditions which f a l l into the category of working conditions have already been mentioned above. They are the physical circumstances which are part and parcel of farmwork and which are probably unalterable. Hand-picking berries and vegetables w i l l always involve stooping, plucking and toting i n rain or sunshine for a good many years to come.  -55However, there axe some conditions which are not immutable, and which are possibly more pernicious to farmworkers than the physical reality, assuming that farmworkers' interests are to earn as profitable a living as possi b l e , under safe and equitable conditions.  There are two major issue areas  under contention, which, i t i s argued, can be changed via legislation.  They  are the piece-rate system and the contractor system. The "piece-rate" refers to a system of payment according to productivity. While this somewhat archaic system has been replaced by hourly wage rates i n most areas of work today, i t i s s t i l l used widely in farmwork. The appropriate unit for harvesters i s payment per 'flat' of produce picked, a f l a t being a plastic container subdivided into sixteen compartments (for berries), each holding one pound of f r u i t . Certainly i t would be d i f f i c u l t , i f not preposterous, to conceive of bank clerks being paid per customer transaction per day, or librarians being rewarded for each book checked out.  Likewise, the C.F.U. argues, i t i s un-  f a i r that farmworkers should be paid according to the amount they can pick, when conditions vary with many things, from the time of the season to the amount of rain per day and so forth. Yet there i s an argument prevalent i n farming (and government) circles that farmwork lends i t s e l f best to the piece-rate system. This argument i s not without some merit.  I t i s a fact that crops are perishable, and, during  the harvesting season, must be transported to the r e t a i l outlets as soon as possible.  Deadlines entail not only swift and efficient harvesting, but long  hours of labour and planning co-ordination.  The piece-rate system, i t i s ar-  gued, enables the farmer to make f a i r l y accurate predictions of how much of the crop can be harvested within a given time-frame and what his overall prof i t i s likely to be.  The argument i n favour of the piece-rate system i s , of  -course, predicated on the assumption that an incentive system (which i s the  -56fundamental notion behind the piece-rate) w i l l make workers pick as quickly as they can, and that they w i l l pick the whole crop. The piece-rate system makes sense for the farmer i n a variety of other ways. One of the most important i s that i t ensures equal per unit costs. This i s obviously very important to farmers, who would-certainly resent having to pay, say a minimum of $3.65 an hour, to a worker who picks two flats an hour, i n contrast to a worker who picks four.  Their per unit costs for  the f i r s t worker would be $1.84, but for the second worker, i t would be  91<|.  Furthermore, another of the very persuasive arguments made by farmers i n defence of the piece-rate system i s that i t frees farmers or managers from supervisory tasks, enabling them to do other work which i s more productive. By leaving productivity  to the workers' anxiousness to earn as much as  they can by picking as much as possible, farmers argue that the free market economy can be seen to be working i n the best interests o f a l l parties. Because workers are responsible for what they produce and do not have farmers telling them to work faster, affable industrial relations are said to be encouraged. Ann Farrell makes what appears to be a very sound argument i n a recent newspaper a r t i c l e .  Quoting a spokesman from the Abbotsford Farm Labour Pool,  a government agency, she t e l l s of a woman who picked forty-one flats i n a ten-hour day.  At fifteen pounds a f l a t , that amounted to six hundred and  fifteen pounds. At 15f a pound, she earned $92.25 for the day (or $9.22 per hour).  Yet the average good picker f i l l s only twenty to thirty flats a day,  for between $45.00 and $6?.50 a day.  Farrell notes that ten hours paid at  the minimum hourly rate of $3.65 would earn such a worker only $36.50 - between $8.50 and $31.00 less than s/he could earn at the piece-rate.^ While the argument that the principle of piece-rates means that the slower worker w i l l be paid at the same rate as more productive workers seems reasonably f a i r , Farrell has ignored some important qualifications.  F i r s t , the  -57forty-one f l a t picker i s very rare, and could only have managed her feat during the three or four weeks of the season's peak. Second, speed of picking also depends on the nature of the crop - for example, how closely f r u i t or vegetables are grouped. This i s not to mention weather conditions, or indeed, good health.  Third, there i s a large discrepancy between the 15<f per pound  rate and the r e t a i l price of the produce. For example, at the end of June, 1982,  Safeways i n Vancouver were selling strawberries at $1.79  Fourth, i t i s not clear whether the 154 P  er  per pound.  Pound rate i s the sum actually  paid to the worker, or whether this i s the rate paid by the farmer to the contractor, who then subtracts his "rake-off". essential point altogether. as a maximum hourly rate.  Finally, Farrell misses the  No one i s advocating $3«65 (or any other amount) Rather, i t i s intended as a minimum hourly rate.  There i s no reason why the proficient worker cannot be rewarded for producti v i t y and earn above that minimum. This i s , in effect, to advocate a minimum hourly rate to ensure a reasonable return when the picking i s not so good, supplemented by a piece-rate system above a certain threshold. Of course, i t could be argued that i f the latter were general practice, farmers would tend to employ only the most productive workers, thereby excluding elderly or slower workers from a source of employment that i s often the only one open to them. This i s certainly a valid argument. However, i t could be interpreted as a demonstration that perhaps farmers are not as i n terested i n speed and efficiency as they are in exploiting cheap labour. This argument, i f true, would be consistent with the growers' position on machinery. The threat of mechanization has been made on many occasions. Some farmers have used mechanical harvesters for crops like raspberries, rather than have their operations unionized.  However, machines tend to ruin a  large proportion of the crop (up to 25%), and machine-harvested f r u i t can only be used for canning and jarring.  Hand-harvested f r u i t , on the other  -58hand, eomes off the hushes i n much better condition and can be sold for eating,  at a much higher price.  Last year, of an estimated thirty mechanical  harvesters i n the valley, only one was used.  Manual labour i s s t i l l very  much i n demand, despite the growers' claim that they are 'doing the workers 34  a favour' by offering them employment. Nonetheless, the argument most often invoked against the abolition of piece-rates i s that i t would mean an increase i n r e t a i l prices to the consumer. Price rises would lead consumers not only to "squawk about the low wages farmers pay to those who harvest their crops", but also to complain about the rising prices of farm produce.  35 J  However, the C.F.U. points out 36  that labour costs account for only 8-9% of the r e t a i l price of food. case of Safeways strawberries, 9% of $1.79 comes to 15$.  In the  The question then  becomes one of a trade-off by consumers between cheap farm produce or clear consciences.... The Canadian Farmworkers Union claims that piece-rates work against the farm labourer i n several ways. First., not only i s the rate per f l a t low (in 1982 i t was, on average, about $2.20), but the time taken to f i l l a f l a t depends on variables mentioned above (such as nature of the crop and the time of  the season). I f the crop i s poor or the weather proves inclement, more  time and effort are required to f i l l a f l a t .  In effect, as the season dwin37  dies, the workers must "work harder and harder to earn less and less".  In  addition, many workers have complained of harrassment when they bring i n their f l a t s .  They claim they are sent back to the fields to pick more, on  the pretext that the flats are not properly f i l l e d , although farmers' scales are  notoriously outdated and unreliable. The f i n a l issue i s the question of overtime.  Farmers have claimed that  because farmwork i s seasonal and the crop must be taken i n as quickly as possible, overtime payments are not warranted.  Meanwhile, the Union claims  -59that non-payment of overtime contravenes the Human Rights Code, which guarantees equality of opportunity in the workplace. In this case, 'equality* refers to the overtime provisions of the regulations of the Ministry of Labour. Part 3t section 26 (b) of the 1980 Employment Standards Act defines "regular wage" as "where paid on a f l a t rate, piece, commission or other incentive bas i s , the wages of the employee i n a pay period divided by the employee's tot a l hours of work during that pay period", with overtime defined as payment due for work i n excess of the average. However, the 1981 Regulations. i n 39 section 9» exempts farmworkers. The question of minimum wages for farmworkers i s a prickly one, and has been discussed in Chapter Two. 25th 1981,  In a statement to the Vancouver Sun on July  Raj Chouhan charged that the Social Credit party's "expensive TV  commercials and glossy leaflets" mislead the public to think that farmworkers are already covered by hourly minimum wage regulations. In fact, the government appears to have no intention of introducing hourly rates for farmworkers. The f i n a l major issue area under working conditions i s the infamous contractor system. FFarmers do not generally hire their labour directly, except for those workers who migrate from the far-flung corners of B.C.  Most farm-  workers are hired by labour contractors, who agree to provide a steady supply of labour to the farmer, i n exchange for a percentage of the payment in wages to the workers. Like piece-rates, the contractor system makes sense for farmers.  First,  one telephone c a l l w i l l secure a labour force of the appropriate size for the appropriate length of time. Second, the grower i s assured that his crop w i l l be picked.  Third, the contractor i s responsible for transporting workers to  the fields each day.  Fourth, the contractor supervises the pickers, and  where the farmer i s white, the contractor acts as interpreter between the growers and the workers. Fifth, because he i s actually the employer of the  coworkers, i t i s the contractor who  must handle the book-keeping.  This can be  a formidable task i n i t s e l f , a s i t i s necessary to calculate each worker's t o t a l number of f l a t s picked, t h e i r U.I.C. contributions, as w e l l as C.P.P. and  tax. Contractors, who  number between t h i r t y - f i v e and f o r t y i n the Fraser V a l -  l e y , are predominantly East Indian and are usually workers from saw-mills f a c t o r i e s who  or  absent themselves from t h e i r jobs to practise the l u c r a t i v e  business of contracting.  T h e i r incentive i s undoubtedly the "rake-off",  which the C.F.U. claims i s often between 2 5 and 40 per cent.  Because they  have only recently been required to r e g i s t e r (with the Employment Standards Board), and because the law has been so lax, contractors have enjoyed s i g n i f i c a n t scope f o r e x p l o i t a t i o n . Indeed, the C.F.U. holds that they are "more responsible [than farmers] f o r using coercive t a c t i c s l i k e witholding wages 40 and threats and blackmail concerning U.I.C". This " l e g a l pimping", undertaken by persons who  have "become enamoured  41 with t h i s country's p o t e n t i a l f o r e x p l o i t a t i o n "  y  has serious e f f e c t s on  the farmworkers' earnings, l i b e r t y and independence.  Contractors compete  with each other f o r contracts with farmers, and as they 'win' by bidding they lower the workers* wages i n the process. cides where labourers work, f o r how r a c t o r who  I t i s the contractor who  long and f o r how much.  low, de-  I t i s the cont-  pays wages, negotiates with farmers over working conditions, c a l -  culates deductions (mentioned above) and arranges transport to the farms. The t y p i c a l farmworker's day begins at 5 a m , when s/he i s driven to the Fraser Valley i n converted mini-buses - 'converted' usually means that the seats have been ripped out and replaced by benches. Often, t h i r t y workers 42 w i l l be herded i n t o a van designed to take twelve. A number of d r i v i n g accidents have been reported i n the l a s t few years, and of course, none of the i n j u r e d was  43 covered by Workers' Compensation.  -61One labour contractor, Kishan Walla, claimed i n an interview with the Province that after paying for gas and two drivers, he cleared only about $80 a day. of $3.15  Yet according to Walia, he paid his workers $2.25 a f l a t out  be was paid by the farmer. With eighty-two people working for him,  collectively earning more than $5,000 a day, Walia would have been grossing more than $1,500 per day, which i s 30% of the t o t a l . ^  I t Is d i f f i c u l t to  imagine gas for two trucks plus two drivers' wages coming to $1420.00 for four two-hour trips a day.  Something, somewhere i s missing.  Why would Walia  take a leave of absence from his saw-milling job where he could earn around $80 a day, without getting up at 4a.m.  and suffering a l l the undoubted head-  aches which are part and parcel of the arduous job of contracting?  If i t  i s true that "nobody's getting rich on this job" as Walia claims, why do the contractors do i t ? If there i s no legitimate way to make a good profit from contracting, a contractor may devise other ways of making i t pay.  They have enormous power  over their workers, partly because, u n t i l very recently, U.I.C. regulations required farmworkers to be employed by the same employer for at least twenty46 five consecutive days, in order to qualify for benefits.  The contractors  could, and often did, shuffle workers round from farm to farm, so that many workers could never meet U.I.C. requirements. This practice has been eliminated, however, by the new regulations, which count contractors as permanent employers. There are several allegations of particular 'scams' practised by contractors . Many complaints concern the practice of deducting U.1.C. contributions from workers' wages. Then, at the end of the season, some contractors have feigned hard times or even bankruptcy, t e l l i n g the workers they must pay the $500 or so outstanding, or else they w i l l be i n trouble with the government. ^  -62As mentioned above, given that as the season progresses i t i s not worth workers' while to continue working for diminishing returns to their labour, contractors have been known to withold their wages t i l l the end of the harvest.  This was easy before the Employment Standards Act as there was no law  requiring weekly, two-weekly or monthly payment of wages to farmworkers. Much worse than this practice i s the less common, but s t i l l evident, •scam' of witholding wages altogether.  When badgered by workers, contractors  can, and allegedly do, write bad cheques and disappear.  As this i s only a  criminal offence when purchasing goods, a l l the worker can do i s f i l e a c i v i l suit and try to seize the contractor's possessions. writing, i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to prove anything.  As there i s nothing i n  I f the contractor has trans-  ferred his assets to his wife or other relatives, virtually nothing can be .  done.  48  Jim McDowell cites another 'scam' i n a Vancouver Free Press article: At the end of the year a dishonest contractor may also skim off the workers, witholding tax, or demand a kick-back. If the contractor witheld $500 from the worker, he might send in $100 and pocket the rest, with no records to keep him honest. 49 It must be noted, i n a l l fairness, that such practices are by no means common to a l l contractors. contractors.  Nor are such practices the exclusive preserve of  One of the C.F.U.'s f i r s t cases involved a Steveston truck far-  mer, Douglas McKim. From March 1978,  McKim had employed Nachhtter Singh  Sidhu and his family of six to pick strawberries, raspberries, cabbages, potatoes and cauliflowers. Their duties also included planting and weeding his four hundred acres of f i e l d s .  McKim promised to pay the four adults $3.50  an hour and the two teenagers $3.00 an hour - top wages for farmwork. When the Sidhu family f i n a l l y quit i n November 1978,  they had collected only  $9,200, with wages of $31,000 due for 10,107 hours of work. The Sidhus, after exhausting negotiations, and latterly pleas, with McKim, turned to the Farmworkers Organizing Committee (FW0C) for assistance.  Stuart Rush, a law-  -63yer acting on the Sidhus' behalf, f i l e d suit against McKim i n the Supreme Court of B.C. him.  McKim declared bankruptcy, with eight other judgments against  The FWOC's information picket lines outside McKim's three fields were  unableto force him to settle his debts.^° The f i n a l area i n which contractors have significant control over workers i s concerned with immigration.  In some cases, the contractor has spon-  sored the worker's entry into Canada, and thus holds the threat of deportation over the worker's head. There i s no concrete evidence of the practice of bringing people from the Indian sub-continent, but the present author has heard several stories of people coming over from villages without visas, but being 'taken care o f by well-dressed Sikhs who seem to hold some sway with immigration officers.-*  1  While i t would be inadvisable to imply, and unlikely  to be the case that individual immigration officers may have 'deals' with contractors, there are provisions i n immigration laws which permit workers i n 'special categories' to be ^imported' when necessary.  The Canadian Gov-  ernment, for example, allows West Indians to come to work i n the tobacco f i e l d s of Southern Ontario under special seasonal contracts.  Workers finding  themselves i n such a 'special category' also find themselves i n a markedly inequitable power relationship with their sponsors. There are viable solutions to the problems of the contract system.  The  C.F.U.'s answer i s modelled on the United Farmworkers of America's hiring h a l l system, where the Union acts as a central pool and takes on the respons i b i l i t i e s currently undertaken by the contractors.  In fact, the Union i s  already supplying labour to several farms through i t s limited hiring h a l l system.  For example, at Bell Farms Ltd. of Richmond, Jack Bell claims that  productivity and efficiency have actually risen since the Union assumed the functions of the contractors. by the  This increased productivity may be explained  greater r e l i a b i l i t y of the Union over the contractors.  Many farmers  -64-  interviewed complained that they had been abandoned several times by contractors before harvesting had been completed. However, most farmers seem to be afraid of a loss of autonomy when i t i s suggested that the Union might take over the contractors' job. "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't", sighed one farmer. Farmers are generally suspicious of the motivations of Union leaders, who are seen as opportunists who only want to usurp the power of the contractors.  For far-  mers, unreliable contractors appear to be preferred to the Union, primarily because of the vastly increased power the Union would have i n allocating, withdrawing and controlling the labour force. Farmers fear that they would be at the mercy of the Union during strikes.  In effect, this would mean a  reversal of the current situation where farmworkers are, by and large, at the 'mercy' of the growers and contractors. Summary This chapter has discussed the living and working conditions characteri s t i c of farm labour i n B.C.  The cabins of the Fraser Valley are generally  cramped, unsanitary and ill-equipped.  The working conditions described con-  tribute to the status of farmwork as the third most dangerous occupation i n Canada. Responsibility for this situation has been attributed partly to the growers and contractors (who control the immediate conditions) and partly to the inaction of the provincial government and i t s ministries. B.C.'s Provincial Ministries of Housing, Health, Labour, Human Resources and Agriculture have regulations for health, safety, workers' compensation, sanitary and safe housing, pesticide use, minimum wages and so forth, which, however, are not enforced on farms. Farmworkers have been either simply omi t t e d from protection of certain acts, or specifically exempted. In some eases, laws exist which could be applied to farmworkers, but are not. In  -65-  .  other cases, legislation could be redefined or amended to include farmworkers, but thus far has  not been altered.  This lack of enforcement continues i n the face of two Royal Commissions* recommendations (in 1952 and 1956)} a Coroner's report and recommendations (1980): a C.F.U. brief identifying conditions which could be incorporated i n to presently unenforced regulations; a Municipal by-law for housing safety and sanitation provisions which requires approval from the Ministry of Health before i t can become operative (1982); a C.F.U. recommendation for government housing for farmworkers (1981); and several studies on the effects of pesticides on humans. The government has refrained from enforcing existing pertinent regulations (or instigating new ones) i n spite of the fact that i t s own interministerial committee accepted some responsibility for the non-enforcement of regulations. A l l of the above has l e f t the farmworkers to depend on the /unreliable •goodwill' of the farmers and contractors to ensure that farmworkers' living and working conditions meet the basic minimum standards granted by law to a l l other workers i n B.C.  It i s because farmers and contractors have not  ensured safe and equitable conditions of labour that the farmworkers have become increasingly disaffected over the past few years, and this i s a parti a l explanation for the emergence of a union for farmworkers.  It i s to this  subject, the unionization of B.C.'s farm labourers, that we now turn.  -65,-  Footnotes 1.  Andy Sidhu of the Canada Farm Labour Pool at Abbotsford estimated that there are some 6000 farmers i n the Fraser Valley. However, most of the white farmers are i n dairy farming or cereal crops. Meanwhile, there are about 150 East Indians, most of whom are i n f r u i t and vegetable cultivation. There are almost 300 raspberry farms, and about 100 strawberry farms. There are several possible explanations for the preponderance of East Indians i n the berry/fruit/vegetable business. First, dairy farming i s not practised i n India, and so East Indian farmers have no tradition or experience of i t . Second, most of them have only recently become farmers within the last 15-20 years, having saved money from other occupations. Berry farming has the advantage of being a relatively easy market to break into, with low i n i t i a l and yearly capital outlays to be made. Third, f r u i t production i s not nearly so time and energy-consuming as other types of farming, so farmers have more time to pursue other interests, and often, other careers.  2.  Rick Ouston, "A Dark Home for Citizen Sandhu", i n the Vancouver Sun. July 22, 1981.  3«  Vancouver Sun. August 25,  4.  Ibid.  5.  The Farmworker, publication of the C.F'iU., September, 1980.  6.  B i l l Horn, interviewed by the Vancouver Sun. July 23,  7.  Seven farmworkers were interviewed i n the Abbotsford/Clearbrook area. However, as with many people interviewed, they wish to remain anonymous fear of harrassment was the reason cited.  8.  Calvin Sandborn, "The Racist History of Present Laws that Discriminate against Farmworkers", (A Farmworkers' Legal Services Project, submitted to the B.C. Human Rights Commission, January, 1983 - personal copy),p.17•  9.  Ibid., p.18.  1980.  1981.  10. Quoted by Charan G i l l , i n "Housing for Migrant Farmworkers," a presentation to the B.C. Human Rights Commission from the Housing Committee of the B.C. Association of Social Workers (May 21, 1982),p.2. 11.  Ibid., p.4.  12. See By-Law 226l of the Municipality of Matsqui. 13. Sandborn, op. c i t . , 14. G i l l , op. c i t . ,  p.18.  p.5»  15. Ibid., p.5. 16. Vancouver Sun. July 23,  1981.  -671 7 . Information from Raj Chouhan, November 24, 1982. 18. Ronald Labonte, "Racism and Labour: The Struggle of B.C.'s Farmworkers", in Canadian Forum. June/July, 1982, p.10. 1 9 . Quoted i n an interview by the Vancouver Sun. August 3 1 » 1981. 20. C. Reasons, L. Ross and C. Paterson, Assault on the Worker: Occupational Health and Safety i n Canada. (Butterworth*s, Toronto, 1981).Chapter 6. 21. Vancouver Sun. August 3 1 . 1981. 22. See the "Report on Environmental Assessment of Pesticide Regulatory Programs, Public Response", Vol.5, (California Department of Industrial Relations, 1981), p.1695. 2 3 . "Agricultural Pesticides and Health Survey Results", (Abbotsford-Matsqui Community Services Project, October, 1982), passim. See also "Farmworkers and Pesticides", (unpublished presentation to the Occupational Health Symposium at U.B.C., December 22; 1982). 24. The Farmworker, editorial entitled "Pesticides, a Threat to the Farmworkers",  September I 9 8 O .  2 5 . John Warnock, researcher for the "South Okanagan Environmental Coalition", interviewed by The Farmworker. April, 1981. 26. Peter von Stackelberg, "Dead Wrong", Quest Magazine. June-August 1981. 2 7 • Reasons, Ross and Paterson, op. c i t . , chapters 8-12. 28. Labonte, op. c i t . 2 9 . Vancouver Sun. November 3 , 1 9 8 2 . 3 0 . Sandborn, op. c i t . , p.11. 31.  Vancouver Sun. Nov.3, 1982.  3 2 . Information provided by Charan G i l l . The B.C. Federation of Agriculture's pesticides committee chairman, Dave Hobson, has suggested that an information package be distributed to a l l B.C. farmers. The package would cover storage of pesticides; labels and warnings on containers; handling and disposal of empty containers; the metric system; recognising poisoning symptoms;calibration of sprayers and worker re-entry to sprayed areas. The Farm Labour Pool at Abbotsford has begun a course on the use of pesticides and this w i l l hopefully prevent a great deal of unnecessary pain and suffering. 3 3 . Ann Farrell, "The Other Side of the Farm Labour Controversy", i n the Vancouver Sun. Sept. 1 3 , 1982. The 1 5 c figure comes from a survey for the Ministry of Labour conducted by economist, Colin Ackroyd, who investigated 4 0 - 5 0 farms i n the Fraser Valley i n 1981, examining labour contracting procedures and production records. From the season's total production figure, Ackroyd subtracted  -68-  the early and late season figure (because of the difference between picking times). An average piece-work rate was established at 15c a pound, to allow the picker on piece-rate "the opportunity to match what would be earned at the minimum hourly rate of $3.65." 34. Sandborn, ittterviewect.Feb.21, 1983. 35• Ann Farrell, op. c i t . 36. Raj Chouhan. Globe and- Mail.Aug.22. 1981. 37. Interview with Chouhan, Nov.24, 1982. 38. "Support B.C. Farmworkers", a C.F.U. pamphlet, 1980, p.3. 39« See Employment Standards Regulations , NOV,  1981, p.8.  40.  "Support B.C. Farmworkers", p.4.  41.  Labonte, op. cit.,p.10.  42.  Information supplied by the C.F.U. and corroborated by many newspaper reports - for example, the Financial Post. July 26, 1980.  43. Globe and Mail. Aug.22, 1980. 44. Province. Aug.22, 1980. 45. These figures represent very conservative estimates of workers' earnings. For example, suppose an average worker picks 2 flats an hour for ten hours a day (most farmworkers work 12-14 hours a day). At $3»15 per f l a t for 20 f l a t s , that comes to $63.00. 82 workers earning $63.00 a day = $5166.00 30$ (the usual average contractor's cut) =-$1548.80. Of course, during the peak the contractor may take more and off-peak may take less. I t also depends on how many workers the contracor controls. But even halving the expected profits to average out for slack times, a contractor like Walia would s t i l l earn $600-700 a day. 46.  The U.I.C. rule 16 was changed on Aug.16, 1982. Contractors are now considered permanent employers. Note that the 25 day rule never applied to carpenters, electricians, longshoremen or other workers engaging i n itinerant employment.  47. Three farmworkers interviewed said they had experienced this themselves, and a further five reported similar experiences of friends or family members. 48.  "Support for Farmworkers", p.6.  49. Jim McDowell, "Fighting the Farm Labour Rip-off", Vancouver Free Press. June 29-July 5, 1979, P.12. 50. Ibid.,p.13. 51. I have heard such rumours from a number of sources, including 2 farmworkers,  -69(who were very reluctant to discuss the matter), friends returning from India'and members of the East Indian community. Of course, i t i s a l l hear-say - there i s no proof. Significantly, however, two immigration officers I spoke to very somewhat reticent on the point, but they did not deny the practice outright.  -70GHAPTER FOUR "UTHAN DA VAILA" - (A TIME TO RISE) This chapter w i l l trace the formation and progress of the Canadian Farmworkers Union from i t s birth i n 1979, tee (or FWOC) to the present.  as the Farmworkers Organizing Commit-  Whereas Chapter Three discussed the salient  issues which are the basis of the C.F.U.'s platform, the present chapter w i l l focus on the participants i n the conflict, their philosophies, their goals and the strategies they have employed in pursuit of them. Finally, the chapter w i l l present a brief chronology of the more significant events which have taken place during the C.F.U.'s struggle for legitimacy. Everything Is Possible. Nothing Can Be Done The conditions under which B.C.'s farmworkers labour have been a source of concern within Vancouver's East Indian community for many years.  Lively  discussions were regularly held i n coffee shops, the gurdwaras (Sikh temples), house parties, or any social occasion where concerned individuals found themselves with like-minded individuals.  However, while most debates tended to  conclude that the situation was atrocious and that something really ought to be done about i t , no one seemed keen to assume the responsibilities of the role of leadership.  It was generally assumed that action was the responsib-  i l i t y of government, which would, sooner or later, have to deal with the i s sue.  Besides, some people f e l t that yet another East Indian organization  would only further divide an already factionalized community."'' The d i f f i c u l t i e s of organizing farmworkers were attributed to several factors.  Farmwork, being largely a seasonal activity, depends on a labour  force drawn from many scattered communities throughout B .C.  The migratory  labour force i s predominantly female, geographically isolated, ethnically 2  segregated  and numerically weak. It i s also transient, with workers join-  -71ing and leaving the occupation sporadically. In addition, very few workers depend on their earnings from farm labour as primary income. Since earnings are supplementary to total yearly family incomes, the issue i s not one of survival, so that farmworkers may not have sufficient incentive to try to improve their conditions.  Farmworkers, particularly those who have had agric-  ultural experience i n India, generally have low expectations, and are accustomed to the paternalistic structure of working relations characteristic of "East Indian culture". A l l of these conditions i n combination reinforce the traditionally unorganized and p o l i t i c a l l y powerless situation of farmworkers. Yet eventually, i n 1978,  a group of three concerned Indians decided to  "brave the odds" and take on a leadership role.  Charan G i l l (who was to be-  come Secretary of the C.F.U.) describes a "heated 'dare' session, at which 3 three hours of brainstorming and soul-searching took place". As a result, Raj Chouhan, Charan G i l l and Harinder Mahill decided to: ...take on an advocacy role that would attempt to organize farmworkers. A primary feeling of ours was that true solidarity with the oppressed meant fighting at their side to transform their objective reality... 4 Raj Chouhan's involvement with the farmwork issue has been described i n Chapter One.  Although he had not been p o l i t i c a l l y active i n India, Chouhan  had been a member of the Indian People's Association of North America (IPANA) i n Vancouver for a year or two."' This i s where he renewed contact with Mahill, whom he had known previously i n India.  In the mid-1970*s, Mahill was working  i n the lumber industry, and had become active as a shop-steward with the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). In 1979-80, Mahill was a full-time o f f i c i a l of IWA, and was delegated to spend a significant proportion of his time working for the FWOC.^ Charan G i l l , meanwhile, was a social worker who had, and has,affiliations with groups ranging from the B.C. Association of Social Workers (BCASW) to the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism (BCOFR). ? Of the three, only Chouhan had had no previous organizational experience,  -72though this was soon to be remedied. In the Beginning The group's f i r s t task was to gather as much information as possible, i n order to make an assessment of the situation, to identify the issues (and p r i oritize them), and to determine appropriate strategies.  The information was  to be gleaned primarily from conversations with farmworkers, with a view to finding out what the workers themselves identified as their grievances, who they held responsible for their situation and what they thought could be done. The group soon discovered the existence of the Labour Advocacy and Research Association (LARA).  This was a government-funded project run by a few  labour lawyers and including John Borst, formerly of the United Farmworkers of America.  LARA's primary purpose was to help farmworkers collect unpaid  wages through small claims courts. This task proved d i f f i c u l t ,  particularly  as working terms or records were never written, making i t hard to prove that the contractor have even employed the worker, much less witheld wages. In addition, contractors often declared bankruptcy or simply disappeared. workers themselves, often newly-arrived, i l l i t e r a t e  Farm-  immigrants, were intimid-  ated by the idea of recourse to the courts (with the criminal undertones implied) , especially i f they were not certain of their status i n Canada. In any case, at that time small claims courts represented the only hope for farmworkers who f e l t that they had been cheated or treated unfairly, Chouhan, G i l l and Mahlll worked closely with LARA over the remaining months of 1978,  assisting with English-Punjabi translations, as well as cases.  G i l l reported a case-load of seventy-eight within four weeks. Word spread quickly throughout the Lower Mainland that LARA's services were being made more accessible by the availability of Punjabi-speakers. was a source of education for Chouhan, G i l l and Mahill:  This experience  -73The information-gathering was three-prongeds data about workers, contractors and growers was collected. This helped us to understand the interdependence between these three parties. We found out how much acreage was under cultivation at various farms to assess labour and production needs. We discovered that the growers and contractors had exploitative attitudes towards the workers. They did not treat them with respect, and the workers had low morale and feelings of hopelessness. 8 The group became aware that, apart from the 'exploitative' relationship between employers and workers, the latter were also the victims of bureaucratic 'red-tape's ...they were caught i n the middle of two powerful i n s t i t utions - the Workers' Compensation Board .and.I.C.B.C.... The buck was passed from one to the other, without any results or help to the victims [of accidents or occupational illnesses]. 9 Adhering to Paolo Freire's maxim that "rights are never given, they are a l ways acquired by conquest",  the original group decided that i t was time to  form an organization of some kind: The extent of these oppressive conditions convinced us that they would not end easily. We began to believe that rights for farmworkers would only be achieved through years of struggle through their own organization. 11 In November 1978, Chouhan, G i l l and Mahill held a meeting i n Surrey, which was attended by f i f t y farmworkers. A follow-up meeting was  organized  i n December at the IWA headquarters, which featured a film by the United Farm12 workers of America (UFWA).  The time seemed ripe for organization, as a sig-  nificant number of farmworkers had expressed support for the emerging leaders' many hours of effort and obvious dedication.  At this point, a fully-fledged  union was not planned. The organization was rather meant to be a formal recognition that a group of people existed who had common grievances and goals, and who were willing and able to mobilize support for the achievement of those goals.  Eventually, a meeting was held i n February 1979,  which elected  the Executive of the Farmworkers Organizing Committee, which now had eleven members.  -74The Farmworkers Organizing Committee The newly-formed FWOC had a number of short-, mid- and long-term goals. According to G i l l and Chouhan, the short-term goals were to continue the work they had begun with LARA, helping to collect unpaid wages, resolve U.I.C. problems and co-ordinate the services required by farmworkers. The mid-term goals were to raise consciousness, organize and mobilize farmworkers. An important part of consciousness-raising would be to expose the lack of legislative protection, to create public awareness of the issue and to build support for 'the cause'.  I t was hoped that this would pressure the government  to extend existing legislation to farmworkers. The long-term goals of the FWOC were to "build links with the trade union movement i n order to solidify 13 the strength and effectiveness of a union for farmworkers!'. Creating a sense of common consciousness and purpose was perhaps one of the more daunting tasks faced by the FWOC. I n i t i a l l y , this was done by talking to farmworkers i n the fields, i n their homes (or cabins on farms) and i n the Sikh temples.  I t was pointed out to individual workers that thousands of  other farmworkers shared their experience, and that they were one of only two groups of workers i n B.C. denied workers' compensation and minimum wages. By identifying a group sharing a common language, cultural heritage and employment experience, and by comparing the group's circumstances, wealth and status with those of other groups, the FWOC was able to create a measure of •consciousness of kind' among farmworkers. Colourful Punjabi cultural programmes were featured at meetings and events, and the Punjabi drum was used 14 at demonstrations, "to give a cultural coding to the militancy". The main enemy identified by the FWOC was the labour contractor.  As a  number of farmworkers had had first-hand experience of the vagaries of the contract system (described i n Chapter Three), and as many of them had had problems collecting their wages, they were able to recognize the FWOC's  -75analysis of the situation.  Farmers, meanwhile, were not seen so much as en-  emies as mere participants i n the system, who had their own problems. Ultimately, however, the FWOC saw that while farmers and contractors could change their individual practices, farmworkers' rights could only be guaranteed by extensions of labour legislation.  Therefore, the government was to be the  FWOC's ultimate target for pressure. The third major task faced by the Committee was that of convincing farmworkers that sufficient power could be mobilized and strategies developed which could effectively produce a change in conditions. To this end, the Committee members described the struggle and achievements of Caesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers of America, which had undertaken collective action and used the tools of strikes and boycotts to great effect.in California. Mobilization of the workforce, the enlisting of public support and recognition as a legitimate body were posited as the pre-requisites of success. In addition, the FWOC tried to convince farmworkers that participation i n the struggle was laudable: farmworkers would not just be fighting for their own benefit, they would be fighting 'injustice'. Strategies of Resistance: Phase 1 - 'Going Public' We immigrants who t i l l the s o i l and harvest the crop of Canada came to this country because we believed i t would be a land of opportunity.justice and equality. We came here with great dreams. We have seen the seeds of those dreams grow into a bitter bitter harvest. A harvest of discrimination, a harvest of poverty, a harvest of sickness, a harvest of death. 15 The immediate strategy of the FWOC was to 'go public', i n the hope of achieving some quick results which would inspire the confidence of farmworkers.  Because the Committee members f e l t that "a drastic changein status re-  lationships was required",' '^ they decided that "the i n i t i a l mode of interven1  17 jtion had to be a contest or disruption i n order to highlight the issues".  -76In March 1979,  the FWOC sponsored and participated in a National Film  Board film about farmworking conditions in the Fraser Valley.  Entitled  "A Time to Rise", the film was intended to be used both as an organizing tool and as a public information vehicle, aimed at winning public sympathy. I t s emphasis i s on the farmworkers themselves, rather than the leaders.  The film  also devotes significant time to interviews with farmers and contractors, who are given the opportunity to a i r their views on farmwork conditions and union18 ization. On April 19th 1979,  the FWOC held a public meeting, which addressed the  issues of long hours, low wages, lack of sanitary f a c i l i t i e s , pesticides, the piece-rate system and the contractor system. G i l l observed that "the ex19 istence of these conditions seemed to startle the general public".  7  The  following day, an article entitled "Valley Farmers Practise Slavery" appeared in the Vancouver Sun.  The government's response was almost instantaneous.  The incumbent Minister of Labour, Allan Williams, ordered an investigation into farm labourers' working conditions to "ascertain whether there i s any 20 exploitation, and the extent of i t " .  The timing of Williams' move coincided  with an upcoming provincial election campaign. However, the eventual results of the investigation are unknown. Next, the FWOC planned to enlist public support via an extensive press campaign designed to highlight living and working conditions.  I t was hoped  that the government would be 'persuaded* to extend existing laws to cover farmworkers, once the 'unpleasant truth' was exposed and the legitimacy of the FWOC's claims was recognized. and easily attained.  The support of the media was essential  The archaic conditions of farmwork made good copy, i f  nothing else. Newspaper articles appeared with increasing regularity, and the FWOC was also featured on several television news reports. -—  The Committee then made contacts with church groups, community organ-  -77izations, student groups and the gurdwaras, many of which were to make small donations of funds.  Two university professors and several lawyers from the  B.C. Law Union joined the FWOC to offer support and legal advice. also took out membership of the National Anti-Poverty Organization. tually, i n May 1979.  The FWOC Even-  the Committee set up a modest.office.  One of the main hurdles to creating and sustaining public support was the counter-attack posed by farmers, who claimed that unionization would mean higher wages and therefore higher food prices. The FWOC submitted a brief to the Minister of Labour, deploring low wages and unsatisfactory working conditions.  To the Committee's surprise, the incumbent Minister of Manpower and  Immigration, the late Mr. Robert Andras, stated in an interview with The Columbian that "the doubling of farmworkers' wages would add only 1.5 cents per 21 pound to the r e t a i l cost of tomatoes...".  For a time, i t seemed as i f  persuasion might be a sufficient strategy. The FWOC's f i r s t major conflict, and i t s f i r s t victory, came on July 17 1979.  I t began with a dispute between labour contractors, Surjit and A j i t  Grewall and Mukhtiar Singh, owner of Mukhtiar Growers Ltd. of Clearbrook. Mukhtiar, claiming that the Grewalls had supplied inadequate labour to his operation, witheld payment to the contractors, who then could not pay the $100,000 owed their workers for six weeks' labour. assistance from the FWOC and on July 17th,  The workers requested  several dozen Committee members  joined two hundred workers on the picket lines.  At f i r s t , Mukhtiar offered  only $40,000, but after two hours of negotiations, handed over a cheque for $80,000, which Chouhan cashed and distributed.  Mukhtiar also Issued a pub-  l i c apology for calling the FWOC leaders "dumb bastards" who "only want to 22 become big-shot union bosses" in an interview with the Vancouver Express. Raj Chouhan issued the following warning: If this grower, or any other farmer raises this kind of problem again, we'll be right back out here  -78We're going to keep on educating workers how to use their strength to demand their rights. 23 With the taste of victory s t i l l fresh, a meeting was held at Abbotsford Airport Hall at the end of July, attended by two hundred people. Chouhan used the opportunity to expose "a cynical scheme cooked up by the farmers who are frightened by the success of the organizing effort among farmwork24 ers".  The farmers had proposed to sponsor Vietnamese refugees to do farm-  work, allowing them to live i n the cabins "in exchange for a l i t t l e plucking 25 and tugging". Chouhan replied to threat of replacement by * boat people': The proposal uses a humanitarian mask to cover a most contemptible exploitative intention. Given the present atrocious conditions of work for farm labour and the fact that there are no laws to protect them, this proposal amounts to an attempt to reap profit from the misery of people cast away from their own homeland. 26 J  Two weeks later, the FWOC received i t s f i r s t threats of violence.  Des-  pite rumours allegedly spread by farmers and contractors that " i f a member of 27 the Organizing Committee got killed, nobody would be talking about a union", forty-two workers marched through the fields of Matsqui.  They were hoping to  inspire other farmworkers to join the FWOC, as well as make a public statement to the growers and contractors of their intention to organize i n defence of their rights.  According to some officers of the FWOC, there have been  many such threats of violence.  Some unidentified parties have been respon-  sible for a number of incidents, including breaking windows, setting f i r e to 28 union members' cars and making threatening telephone c a l l s . The winter of 1979 was spent signing up members, staging r a l l i e s and lobbying the government. In November 1979, the FWOC "helped [farmworkers] 29 channel their anger...over governmental inaction",  by organizing a march  to the Social Credit Convention. Premier Bennett and Labour Minister, Allan Williams, were presented with a seven thousand name petition, calling for the 30 extension of labour standards legislation to farm and domestic workers.  -79The demonstrators were assured that there would be action during that session of the B.C. Legislature, which would protect farmworkers.^ Direct confront1  ation of members of the government i n conspicuous places was a tactic designed to force the latter to make public commitments.  I f action was not then  forthcoming, the government could be •embarrassed* for having reneged on a promise made to a group, whose legitimacy had been sanctioned by the signatures of seven thousand members of the electorate. The technique of persuasion of the Social Credit government thus far had only succeeded i n securing a vague promise that the situation would be investigated and, i f warranted, rectified.  In fact, the technique was f a r  more effective i n gaining support from other groups. The FWOC had already started making overtures to the trade union movement, i n i t i a l l y through the IWA, and later the B.C. Federation of Labour (BCFL) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). But ironically, i t was not u n t i l the formation of the r i v a l Farm Workers Defence Committee (FWDC) that the CLC added $40,000 to the $10,000 donation from the B.C. Government Employees Union.^ Whether or not the CLC's sudden willingness to back the 'moderate' FWOC was a result of the animosity between the CLC and the more 'extreme' left-wing groups, the entry of the FWDC into the arena had significant effects upon the organizational environment of Chouhan's group. The latter f e l t , with some justification, that the r i v a l FWDC had 'muscled in' after the original group had laid the foundations of agitation for farmworkers' and the public's support. The FWDC had been formed on March 23rd 1980, by the East Indian Defence Committee (EIDC), i t s e l f an off-shoot of Hardlal Bains* Communist Party of Canada, Marxist/Leninist (CPCML)?^  The FWDC was formed, according to i t s  constitution, "to fight to defend the basic interests of farmworkers against 34 a l l their exploiters and oppressors",  and was to be "a militant union...  completely free of the corrupt practices and class collaborationist policies  -80of the B.C. Fed. and C.L.C.". on one side, and  CFC-ML/EIDC  35  The established rivalry between IPANA/BCOFR  on the other, extended to a bitter battle bet-  ween Chouhan's Farmworkers Organizing Committee and Charles Boylan's Farm Workers Defence Committee. fold.  The negative effects of this struggle were four-  F i r s t , the FWOC diverted a great deal of valuable time and energy to  denouncing i t s r i v a l when i t needed to be focusing on the 'real' issues; second, i t further polarized the East Indian community into 'camps' (even though the EIDC did not carry mass support among the community); third, i t undermined the credibility of Chouhan's group, as confusion increased as to who represented what, how and why;  and fourth, i t alienated a number of farmworkers  who found themselves unwilling prizes i n a pitched battle for their a l l e g i ance, so that they mistrusted the motives of both sides.  The positive eff-  ects of the battle, however, were that i t identified the FWOC as the more moderate group, and this led to positive support from the trade union movement (in the form of funds) and positive sanctions from the government (in 36 the form of recognition as 'the better of two e v i l s ' ) .  However, the FWDC's  competition was soon to be dissipated, as i t was subsequently de-certified at Cho's Mushroom Farm, after i t s small membership there became disillusioned. The entry of another 'enemy' (FWDC) forced members of the original group to re-examine both their analysis of the situation and their strategies. Charan G i l l noted that i t was important to "empathize with the targeted elements" i n order to assess more accurately "where pressure may be applied most 37 tellingly".  This was an area i n which the FWOC experienced great d i f f i c -  ulty, for as G i l l pointed out, "identifying with the target might also rob 38 one of the a b i l i t y to act as assertively as necessary".  The retention of  emotional commitment and at the same time, objectivity, was made especially d i f f i c u l t by the fact that FWOC members were working three or four hours dail y after their regular jobs, as well as during weekends and general holidays.  -81-  In order to protect volunteers from 'burn out' and to sustain momentum, i t was decided to establish a formal union with a full-time staff. The Canadian Farmworkers Union? Phase 2 - Recognition and Bargaining The Canadian Farmworkers Union, Local #1 was founded on April 7th at the Carpenters' Hall i n New Westminister.  1980,  One hundred and f i f t y farmwork-  ers attended to elect union officers and to pass the Union's f i r s t resolutions.  On April 6th, an enthusiastic crowd of five hundred and f i f t y people  attended a rally i n Vancouver to celebrate the founding of the f i r s t union for farmworkers i n Canada. Chouhan said at the r a l l y : For farmworkers, the achievement of a union w i l l mean an end to the long history of being the most underpaid and exploited section of Canadian workers. For the Canadian labour movement, this achievement w i l l be a landmark because i t w i l l mean the entrance of a very significant section of the workforce into the movement of organized labour. 39 Caesar Chavez of the United Farmworkers of America had come from California to offer the CFU his f u l l support and to give B.C. growers a warning: Farmworkers have been forgotten around the world. Now our duty, our obligation, i s to make a common cause, to stand, to work, to struggle, to end poverty and exploitation, and above a l l , to gain recognition. 40 Chavez also recommended strikes and boycotts and pledged f u l l UFWA support when the time came. He noted that although "they [the growers and government] 4-1  have the money, we have the time". Recognition was the key to the CFU's next strategy i n conflict.  Formal  recognition as a bona fide trade union would l i f t the organization from the status of pressure group to that of a legitimate bargaining unit.  Thus, on  June 26th 1980, the CFU announced that i t had made i t s f i r s t application for certification by the Labour Relations Board (LRB), having signed up 55% of the employees of Jensen's Mushroom Farms Ltd. of Langley.  Jensen contested  the Union's application, arguing that i t was not a bona fide union and that  -82-  i t did not represent 55* of his workforce.  42  But after two days of hearings,  the LRB ruled i n favour of the Union and granted the CFU the right to serve 43  notice to "bargain i n good faith".  J  Good faith seemed to be the element lacking i n the Driediger affair, the CFU's second major struggle. On June 29th 1980, an information picket line was set up outside George Driediger*s Fort Langley strawberry farm.  The Union  claims to have held discussions with Murray Driediger, son of the owner and manager of the farm.  The Union claims to have reached an agreement with him  i n April, setting the piece-rate at $3.00 a f l a t .  Chouhan also claims to  have a seven-page document detailing the terms of the agreement. However, Driediger later denied a l l knowledge of.the agreement, maintaining that "this 44  union hasn't been certified to represent anybody". although he too dislikes the contract system:  He also stated that  ...there's just no bloody way we could afford it...Once we sign a contract we can't use non-union labour, and with a perishable crop like ours, one strike and you can kiss your year goodbye. 45 Driediger i s one of the many Fraser Valley farmers who i s threatening "next year mechanization". The CFU's second certification was at Country Farms Natural Foods Ltd. of Richmond, i n August 1980. As at Jensen's, allegations were made of unfair labour practices.  The Union claimed that there was a series of lay-offs,  suspensions and verbal harrassment soon after the application was made. In early August, the CFU sought and won an LRB ruling against Ron Ferguson, own46  er of Country Farms.  Five employees were laid off after certification,  though Ferguson attributed the lay-offs to a slump i n business. The year 1980 ended with the Union's f i r s t collective agreement, at Bell Farms Ltd., an eighty-hectare cranberry farm i n Richmond. Certification had been granted on September 5th 1980, and the two-year contract signed i n November provided a 30$ wage increase for twelve regular employees.  Increases  -83of between $1*87 and $2.47 an hour boosted farmworkers' pay to $6.67 an hour in January 1981,  and $7.67 In January 1982.  an hour i n 1981 and $6.67 i n 1982.  Seasonal workers received $5.80  But the most important feature of the  B e l l Farms contract was i t s elimination of the middle-man and the introduction of a union hiring h a l l .  Other highlights of the agreement are: union  shop1 seniority provisions; a standard eight-hour day; forty-hour week plus overtime; health provisions giving workers f u l l insurance coverage; workers' compensation protection; pay for statutory holidays; equal pay for work of equal value; and a provision that work presently done by bargaining unit  mem-  47 bers should not be contracted out. The f i r s t National Convention of the CFU was held on March 27-29 1981, at Douglas College, New Westminster. Twenty delegates attended, representing workers from the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and Ontario.  The Convention re-  viewed the Union's past year and passed a number of constitutional and policy resolutions.  One of the most important resolutions re-emphasized the Union's  intentions of setting up hiring halls and a transportation system. I t also adopted a resolution urging the National Executive to begin an organizing drive i n the Okanagan and in Ontario, where there were 'branches' of sympathies  izers, but few members. Less Talk. More Action: Phase 3 — Coercion Although now recognized as a legitimate bargaining agent, the CFU,  still  bereft of a contract with Jensen, served i t s f i r s t strike notice on April 7th 1981.  The goal of the strike was to win equal pay for women farmworkers, who  were earning $4.00 per hour, in contrast to the men's $6.50.  Meanwhile,  picketing began at Country Farms. Chouhan announced that White Spot Ltd. and McDonald's Consolidated Ltd. had both agreed not to handle Country Farms' a l f a l f a sprouts. ^°  -84-  As picketing continued at Jensen's, violence once again broke out i n a skirmish between Jensen's daughter, Annie Hall, and Raj Chouhan. Each claimed they had been assaulted by the other and both pressed charges, although the R.C.M.P. later decided not to pursue the matter, as the incident had occ51 ured on the picket l i n e . ^ Indeed, the Jensen picket was marred by sporadic outbursts of violence.  Scuffles broke out between contractors and non-union  'scabs', members of the Jensen faction and picketers.  Bradley Hall, Jensen's  son-in-law, accused the CFU of "picking on" white farmers: Why don't they pick on their own people? A l l the problems with working conditions are with East Indian farms, yet we're the ones they're after. 52 In response, Judith Cavanagh, a CFU organizer, claimed that "East Indian f a r 53 mers have no special spot i n our hearts",  and wondered how the Union could  be accused of pro-East Indian bias when the fight against labour contractors (who are virtually a l l East Indians) took precedence over the fight against farmers. other.  In any case, accusations were hurled freely at each side from the  The CFU charged Jensen with reckless driving at pickets.  Gn the oth-  er hand, Brad Hall claimed that threats against four non-union East Indians forced him to lay them off "for their own safety". ^  On Sunday, May l6th,  the CFU defied a Richmond Council order to remove a picket t r a i l e r from Country Farms. On April 19th, an information picket line was thrown around the "Naam", a vegetarian restaurant and retailers i n Vancouver owned by Ron Ferguson (owner of Country Farms).  Ferguson had offered the ten full-time workers at  Country Farms $5*94 an hour (from $5«25), whereas the Union was asking for $6.67.  One month later, the "Naam" was forced to lay off a third of i t s  workers, and Ferguson (who had once admired Chavez) claimed, "It's a personal thing.  They're after me". ^  The CFU's next contract was with Reimer's Nurseries Ltd. of Yarrow.  -85The contract boosted wages from $6.50 to $8.25 an hour, covering twenty-five full-timers and fifteen seasonal workers. Under this contract, the employer was to pay 80% of the costs of medical and dental insurance, plus extended long-term disability plans and group l i f e insurance.  The contract also gran-  ted a $75 signing bonus, union security and seniority rights.  ^  In August, the CFU won an important arbitration against Reimers' Nurseries, regarding a case of unfair dismissal.  J  7  was the signing of a contract with Jensen's.  However, i t s biggest success I t has yet to be explained why  that particular struggle continued for a year, when under Section 70 of the B.C. Labour Code, the LRB can impose a f i r s t collective agreement for one 60 year. Grappling with the Law Although the right to unionize i s now seldom questioned, there are many ways in which the process of unionization can be hampered. I t was to this issue that the CFU now turned i t s attention. If farmers do not want their workers to unionize, they can prevent union representatives from gaining access to the workers' living quarters.  On September 29th 1981, Sarwan Boal  (a CFU organizer), told the LRB that he had been refused access to eight Fraser Valley farms.^  1  This was the f i r s t occasion on which the Board held a  hearing under Section 4 (2) of the Labour Code. This section gives the Board the power to grant access for union representatives to employees who reside on the employer's property.  Peter Sheen, representing the eight growers, ar-  gued that Section 4- (2) was only meant to apply to isolated fishing and logging camps. He argued that the Union had already had "plenty of access", as they had been on thefarms several times before.  However, the union repre-  sentatives had been violating the law - they had been trespassing. In effect, the-farmers and their counsel were advocating that the CFU continue to break  -86the law, rather than have legal access.  By making organizers resort to sur-  reptitious means of informing the workers of the benefits of joining the Union, the farmers would retain the power to throw them off their land by whatever means they saw f i t . The LRB's decision of March 1982 noted that the Union had tried to reach farmworkers resident on their employers' properties through advertisements i n the Indo-Canadian Times (a Punjabi language newspaper), on local radio pro62 grammes and i n the Sikh temple i n Abbotsford.  However, Stephen Kelleher,  (Chairman of the LRB) noted i n his decision that farmworkers were isolated by: ('a) the low literacy rate among East Indian farmworkers (who therefore could not read leaflets)} (b) their lack of transportation to take them off the farmers' land: (c) the unavailability of telephones} (d) the long working hours; 63 and (e) the paternalistic 'protection' of women workers by farmers. The decision to grant access was based on the issue of whether workers l i v i n g on farms had less opportunity for contact with the Union than nonresidents.  Kelleher was careful to point out that i t was not a question of  whether workers had had adequate exposure to the Union, as farmers had argued.  Negotiations were to decide on terms regarding the number of Union rep-  resentatives to be given access, the amount of time they should be permitted on the property, the area where meetings should take place and whether em64 ployers should be notified of v i s i t s . no means settled.  However, the access question i s by  A series of appeals was submitted by the  ing the terms, and they are s t i l l pending.  growers contest-  ^  However, the most important concession to the farmworkers on the legislative front was the Employment Standards Act of August,1980. The provisions of the Act (and i t s shortcomings) have been discussed i n Chapter Two. Act's effects and implications for the CFU are manifold.  The  First, whether the  government Intended the Act as a positive sanction (or reward) to the efforts  -87-  of the Union i s debatable, but the Act has certainly had the effect of l e g i t imizing the CFU's claims.  Employment Standards represents both a recognition  that there i s a problem and an acceptance by the government that i t i s parti a l l y responsible for that problem by i t s legislative discrimination. Second, although the Act's provisions do not cover a l l the CFU's demands, i t represents a compromise of sorts. The CFU had i n fact demanded more than i t could r e a l i s t i c a l l y expect to gain a l l at once, and in so doing had secured a part i a l victory by inducing a change i n the government's willingness to concede. From the Union's point of view, the importance of the Act lay in the fact that i t showed the CFU to be an effective pressure group, which could get results, and get them f a i r l y quickly.  On the other hand, the Employment Stan-  dards Act has also, to an extent, pre-empted the need for further large-scale agitation by the Union. Not only has the public been led to believe (by the claims of Social Credit Ministers^) that the Act has eliminated exploitation of farmworkers, but farmworkers themselves may see no further point i n fighting for minimum wages, now that they have some legislative protection.  They  may also calculate that the government has 'given i n ' quite quickly, but has now given a l l i t intends to give, considering how small and ( s t i l l ) relatively powerless a group farmworkers are. Finally, the last important concession for farmworkers was a change, at the Federal level, in Unemployment Insurance Contributions, Regulation 1 6 . This egregious regulation excluded farmworkers from U.1.C. coverage i f they did not work for the same employer for at least twenty-five consecutive days, and i f they did not receive from him at least  $250  i n earnings.  Only farm-  workers were subjected to this discrimination, and the only way to get around 67 the regulation was to "submit to the stranglehold of a contractor".  On  August 3 1 s t 1 9 8 2 , the Federal Employment and Immigration Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, announced the revocation of Regulation 1 6 , making thousands of farm-  -88-  workers eligible for U.I.C. benefits: This change makes the U.I. program more equitable and responsive to economic conditions...we f e l t that the principle of equity demanded that these workers be insurable in the same way as a l l other Canadian workers . 68 The principle of equity was the basis of the CFU's argument in i t s recourse to Human Rights legislation.  In July 1981,  the Union had f i l e d a com-  plaint with the B.C. Human Rights Branch, claiming that the exclusion of farmworkers from hourly minimum wage provisions contravened the equal opportunity clauses of B.C.'s (and Canada's) Human Rights Codes. There was some doubt at the time as to whether an investigation of the claim was within the Branch's jurisdiction.  Consequently, i t was not u n t i l February 1983» that a report  was f i n a l l y released, nearly two years after the previous Commission had de69  termined i t s authority to conduct an investigation. The Report, entitled "What This Country Did To Us I t Did To Itself", c r i t i c i z e d the government's inaction: In f a i l i n g to act on the previous Commission's recommendations, and allowing more than three months to elapse before naming new Commissioners, the government seemed ...to be signalling their indifference. Some people were openly suspicious that the Commission hearings were simply a means of diffusing concern, or merely a sop to reformist groups. 70 The Report also made specific connections between the historical discrimination levelled against East Indians i n B.C.,  and the historical discrimin-  ation against farmworkers: When an argument ties clear and pressing problems of safety and unequal treatment before the law to a Canadian 'tradition of quiet racism', the Human Rights Commission must naturally take notice and respond... It i s this kind of climate that feeds indifference to the continuance of inequitable laws. Arguments of farm economics ring false when the workers who consistently bear the brunt are ethnic minorities. 71  -89-  The Commission's Report recommended that: 1. A l l exclusions and exceptions of farmworkers currently i n place under the Employment Standards Act he removed, allowing farmworkers to enjoy the same protection as other workers; 2. The Industrial Camp regulations he implemented and applied immediately; 3. Laws should be enacted to guarantee that a l l Canadian farmworkers have adequate showers, change rooms and laundry f a c i l i t i e s . Also, protective clothing and equipment should be required where necessary. 72 Further recommendations were included to extend Workers' Compensation, health, safety and compensation protection to farmworkers (see Appendix B, page 128). The importance of the B.C. Human Rights Commission Report lay i n the fact that this i s the f i r s t time that the living and working conditions of farmworkers have been acknowledged as a matter of human rights, enshrined i n fundamental law. However, as noted i n Chapter Two, the government has been quite adept at ignoring the recommendations of i t s own investigatory committees, so i t i s d i f f i c u l t to predict whether any action w i l l be taken on the H.R.C.'.s recommendations.  In the current climate, one suspects not.  Where Now? The CFU's current situation raises many questions about i t s ability to survive i n the immediate future.  The Union has chosen to pursue public and  trade union support and i n so doing has neglected to solidify i t s support base among farmworkers themselves. Its membership now stands at sixteen 73 hundred, out of a farm labour force of some thirteen thousand.  In addition,  the Union i s acutely short of funds and may be forced to vacate i t s office on Imperial St., New Westminster, for smaller premises. With i t s attention trained upon the more pressing issue of financial solvency, the Union's organizing ability may well be compromised for the present season (May to September), and i t s long-term effectiveness may be hampered i f the momentum of last summer i s lost.  -90Another problem with which the Union i s beleaguered i s the 'burn out' syndrome. A number of the original activists have l e f t the organization recently, at least temporarily.  Charan G i l l , for example, i s now taking a de-  gree i n Social Work at the University of British Columbia and i s no longer active with the Union. Sarwan Boal (another leading CFU organizer) i s taking a 'leave of absence'.  Harinder Mahill, meanwhile, i s now working for the  Ministry of Labour as an Industrial Relations Officer and i s no longer a mem74 ber of the 'inner c i r c l e ' of the Union.  However, these problems notwith-  standing, i t i s possible that the Union w i l l emerge from the current morass i n fighting form.  Fortunately for the CFU, the government has not removed  a l l of the sources of grievances, and as long as there i s s t i l l a 'cause', the Union may be able to continue mobilizing support, and i n the long-run, strengthen i t s e l f . Summary This chapter has outlined the complex process by which the Canadian Farmworkers Union came into existence, i n i t i a l l y as the Farmworkers Organizing Committee. I t has discussed the participants of the struggle, the hurdles they have had to overcome and the means by which they have done so.  We  have seen the Union pass through four distinct phases of development and s t rategies, and i t has been shown how the,choice of each strategy has been limited by the objectives of the Union, calculations of the climate of 'public opinion' and whether the government i s likely to concede, and ultimately, the power of the organization as i t s support and resource bases grew. The firststrategy of conflict employed was an attempt to 'persuade' the government to extend protective legislation to farmworkers by preparing factual information, presented i n such a way that the justice of 'the cause' would be revealed.  In the second stage, when persuasion had proved fruitless,  -91the Union attempted to 'embarrass' the government through an extensive press campaign, designed to expose the inequities of the system and the compliance of a l l relevant parties i n the maldistribution of economic and benefits.  'symbolic'  Government inertia was argued to be partially responsible for the  'archaic' conditions of farmwork. The Union saw i t s e l f as offering the government an opportunity to compensate for past i l l s , an offer which, however, the government consistently refused.  As the CFU acquired more public and  trade union support, i t attained legitimacy through recognition as a c e r t i f ied representative of an aggrieved group. But when co-operation by the growers was not forthcoming and collective bargaining failed, the Union u t i l ized i t s fourth strategy of conflict, namely coercion, through strikes and pickets. The chapter has shown that i n the i n i t i a l stages, the Union's lack of resources and power forced i t to lobby the government as a pressure group fighting for highly-regarded ideals of social justice and equal opportunity. However, as the Union became more established, i t turned i t s attention to the growers and contractors and the mechanics of collective bargaining as a trade union. On the other hand, the government's response to pressures from farmworkers has traditionally been to ignore them. If 'embarrassed', the government has set up investigatory committees, although in the event, these bodies have inspired l i t t l e i n the way of legislative innovation. However, the Employment Standards Act represents a compromise. The government has been forced (arguably by i t s unwillingness to be seen as a discriminator) to make some concessions to the farmworkers. Yet at the same time, Employment Standards has pre-empted, to an extent, the CFU's raison d'etre , and was followed by an attempt to persuade farmworkers (not to mention the public) that substant i a l changes have been made. This, combined with the fact that the Union  -92-  s t i l l has only sixteen hundred members, seems to put i n doubt the Union's immediate survival.  However, i f i t manages to weather i t s current financial  problems, the CFU w i l l start from a better bargaining position (or, according to our model, a higher demand curve) at the beginning of the next round of conflict.  The CFU has proved i t s e l f to be an effective pressure group, and  Employment Standards  represents a realization of some of the Union's goals.  I f i t i s p o l i t i c a l l y shrewd, the CFU w i l l be able to use the latest reversal of government promises to extend Workers' Compensation to farmworkers to great advantage.  I t i s possible that the Union w i l l return to some of i t s former  strategies which require fewer resources to be effective.  Clearly, there i s  s t i l l a long way to go before farmworkers are protected from abuse i n employment by legislation i n the same way as other B.C. workers are.  -93Footnotes There axe an estimated f i f t y or so organizations within the East Indian community of the Lower Mainland, ranging from the Punjabi Society to the India Music Society, from the gurdwara committees to India Club. However, there have not been many specifically p o l i t i c a l groups, apart from the Ghadr Party, which, however, was an extension of the Indian Independence movement and whose focus was always on Indian p o l i t i c s . Traditionally, the Khalsa Diwan Society, which ran the temples, was also the p o l i t i c a l arm of the community, taking up issues such as immigration policy and discrimination. However, the KDS was s p l i t i n 1952, and a more traditionalist group, the Akali Singh Society, set up another temple. In 1973, the East Indian Defence Committee (EIDC) was formed as a response to the growing racial tension, and violent attacks against members of the community. The EIDC a l l i e d i t s e l f with the orthodox faction i n the gurdwara dispute, took up the Ghadr gauntlet and added fuel to the conflict. Thus, i n the 1970's, other specifically p o l i t i c a l organizations emerged from the East Indian community. The East Indian C i t izens of Canada Welfare Association (EICCWA), an organization formed i n 1952 to approach government with one voice over immigration policy, had, by the early 1970's, become virtually defunct. Its successor was the National Association of Canadians of Origins i n India (NACOl). A nationwide organization, NACOI was set up by the Federal Government (wearing i t s Multicultural!sm hat) i n order to centralize p o l i t i c a l lobbying and to f a c i l i t a t e bargaining with one organization per ethnic group. However, as NACOI's leadership and support came almost exclusively from the IndoCanadian e l i t e , the organization has never enjoyed widespread community support, although most other groups do a f f i l i a t e , i f only as a gesture, with NACOI. The leadership prefers to take a "low-key" approach to poli t i c s , and indeed, has only recently declared i t s support for the C.F.U. NACOI's r i v a l , meanwhile, i s the Indian People's Association of North America (IPANA), which i s the only other "pan-East Indian" organization in Canada. IPANA was formed i n the early 1970's as a response to Indira Gandhi's Emergency i n India, though i n the mid-1970*s IPANA extended i t s concerns to Canadian issues. IPANA's approach to p o l i t i c a l organization i s , like NACOI's, low-key. Because i t has a predominantly Marxist bent, the Association prefers to offer help and support to other groups, rather than take a prominent position i n the community's p o l i t i c a l l i f e . Nonetheless, although there are only a few p o l i t i c a l organizations within the East Indian community, they do represent a number of specific and d i f f erent p o l i t i c a l tendencies, which prevent the community from uniting as a cohesive p o l i t i c a l force. As U j j a l Dosanjh, lawyer and N.D.P. candidate said, the East Indian community of B.C. i s "politically hyperactive". For more detailed discussions of these organizations and Sikh politics, see Verne Dusenbery's "Candian Ideology and Public Policy: The Impact on Vancouver Sikh 'Ethnic' and 'Religious'Adaptation", (unpublished, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1979)» Adrian C. Mayer, "A Report on the East Indian Community i n Vancouver", (university of British Columbia mimeo, 1959)? or Ujjal Dosanjh's unpublished paper, "The East Indian Community of Vancouver: A look from Within". By "ethnically segregated" I am referring to the 'insulation' technique practised by the governments of British Columbia since the entry of East Indians to Canada. This has been discussed i n Chapter Two with respect to legislative discrimination, which barred East Indians from certain  -94occupations, from the franchise and from effective participation i n the p o l i t i c a l l i f e of the society. Although those statutes have now been repealed, the 'tradition of quiet racism' to which the B.C. Human Rights Commission's Report of 1983 referred, has, to a large extent, perpetuated the isolation of the East Indian community, which has never become f u l l y integrated into white Canadian society. 3.  Charan G i l l , "The Birth of the Farmworkers Organizing Committee", (unpublished paper, A'aaeouver, 1983), p.4.  4.  Ibid., p.5.  5.  This has been briefly discussed i n f©oi_©te #1. Several people interviewed f e l t that i n fact, the C.F.U. was a 'front' organization of IPANA, which was looking for a way to win widespread community support. However, the membership of Raj Chouhan and Harinder Mahill in IPANA does not prove that the C.F,U. i s , or was, IPANA's brainchild. Union officers are understandably reluctant to overplay the importance of their membership of IPANA, as i t i s known for i t s contingent of Marxists (of various i l k s ) , whereas the C .F .U. i s primarily a trade union in the ordinary sense of the term.  6.  Harinder Mahill, now President of IPANA, interviewed on March 16,  7.  B.C.O.F.R. was created i n 1975 as a counter-attack on the racial violence of that time. Charan G i l l i s i t s President. B.C.O.F.R. has had several •differences of opinion' with i t s r i v a l , EEDC, members of which have reportedly attacked B.C.O.F.R. demonstrations (according to Mahill and G i l l ) .  8.  G i l l , op. c i t . ,  9.  Ibid., p.5.  1983.  p.6.  10. Quoted by G i l l , op. c i t . , p.6. 11.  Ibid., p.6.  12. The Globe and Mail. November 26, 13. G i l l , op. c i t . ,  1978.  p.7.  14. Ibid., p.9. 15. Raj Chouhan, quoted by the B.C. Human Rights Commission Report of February, 1983, p.15. 16. G i l l , op. c i t . ,  p.7.  17. Ibid., p.8. 18. "A Time To Rise", by Jim Munroe and Anand Patwardhan, a National Film Board production, 1981. 19. G i l l , op. c i t . ,  p.8.  20. Allan Williams, quoted i n B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. June,1979'343.  95-  21. Quoted by The Columbian. August 8, 1979. 22. The Vancouver Express. June 22, 1979. 23. The Vancouver Free Press. August 3 - 9 , 1979, P«8. 24. The Farmworker. August 1979, p . l 6 . 25. Quoted by Ronald Labonte i n "Racism and Labours The Struggle of B.C.'s Farmworkers", i n Canadian Forum. June/July 1982, p.10. 26. Raj Chouhan, quoted by The Vancouver Sun. August 16, 1979. 27. Raj Chouhan, quoted by The Vancouver Sun. August 27, 1979. 28. Several C.F.U. organizers interviewed reported physical violence and verbal harrassment by telephone c a l l s . In the summer of 1981, Sarwan Boal, a union representative, was attacked i n a bar while out celebrating the formation of the Union, and was hospitalized for several days. There i s no proof, however, that such attacks are committed by farmers, contracors or their associates. So far, the Police have not managed to detain any suspects. 29. G i l l , op. c i t . , p.11. 30. Karen Sanford referred to this assurance on May 2, 1980. (See B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates. May, 1980s 2245.) 31.  Ibid.  32. Information supplied by Raj Chouhan, November 24, 1982. 33. The Communist Party of Canada/Marxist-Leninist, was founded by Hardial Bains and holds Albania to be the only true communist state i n the world. I t i s d i f f i c u l t to ascertain the size of i t s membership, and i t s leaders, such as Charles Boylan, are reluctant to disclose the party's sources of funds, or indeed, support. The Party i s generally viewed as an extreme l e f t group, and there i s l i t t l e evidence, despite i t s claims that i t i s a mass party, that the C.P.C./M.L. has a significant following. 34. See "A Brief Account of the Organization of Cho's Mushroom Farm i n Surrey by the General Farm and Allied Workers Union Local No.l", (unpublished, produced by the G.F.A.W.U., November 17, 1980),p.2. The G.F.A.W.U.'s version of the organization of Cho's i s considerably at variance with the C.F.U.'s version. The former accused the C.F.U. of trying to 'raid' Cho's and of harrassing Cho's workers. The C.F.U. meanwhile, claims that Boylan's group falsely represented themselves as members of the C.F,U., i n order to recruit workers from Cho * s into the G.F.A.W.U. In any case, Cho's has since been decertified (the G.F.A.W:;U. had won certification from the L.R.B. i n November, 1980). 35. Ibid., p . 3 . 36. This i s not to argue that without the entry of the F.W.D.C., the F.W.O.C. could not and would not have eventually been recognized. But in the long and precarious business of proving a new union's legitimacy and ability  -96to sustain i t s e l f and i t s support, the existence of a 'fringe' party rivaling the efforts of the more 'moderate' group often secures support for the latter group, i f only because of the established trade unions' fear of losing their own relatively conservative support base. 37. G i l l , op. c i t . , p.11. 38. Ibid. 39• Raj Chouhan, quoted by G i l l , op. c i t . , p.13. 40. The Farmworker. September, 1980, p . l . 41. The Vancouver Sun. April 28, 1980. 42. Peter Sheen, interviewed October 18, 1982. Sheen had represented eight growers of the Fraser Valley who had contested union access to the farms in 1981/2, but had l e f t the case to take up a position at the Labour Relations Board. According to Sheen, recognition as a bona fide union involves an investigation by the L.R.B. into the applicant's formation, membership, goals and constitutions to determine that the organization i s a trade union, as opposed to a purely p o l i t i c a l organization. According to the B.C. Labour Code, a union, once recognized as such, must have a 55# majority of supporters (ascertained by a vote) i n a workplace before a certification can be granted. 43. Under the Labour Code, notice of an intention to bargain must be served to the employers, and the server must also have the intention to bargain "in good faith" and be committed to any agreement that i s reached as a result of f a i r bargaining. Where parties become deadlocked (or where one party i s not prepared to negotiate), the Board i s empowered to impose a f i r s t collective agreement for one year. 44.  The Province. June 29, I 9 8 O .  45. The Financial Post. July 26, 1980. 46. The Vancouver Sun. August 7, 1980. 47. The Province. November 20, 1980. 48. The Farmworker. April, 1981. 49. Like women i n other areas of employment, women farmworkers are s t i l l subject to wage differentials on the basis of sex. "Equal pay", the goal of the strike at Jensen's, refers to equal pay for comparable work. 50. The Vancouver Sun, April 15, 1981. 51. Raj Chouhan, interviewed November 24, 1982. 52. The Globe and Mail. April 27, 1981. 53.  The Vancouver Sun. April 28, I 9 8 I .  54. The Globe and Mail. April 27, 1981.  -97-  55. The Vancouver Sun. May 16, 1981. 56. The Vancouver Sun. June 27, 1981. 57. The Vancouver Sun. May 16, 1981. 58. The Vancouver Sun. June 27, 1981. 59. The Overseas Times. August 12, 1982. 60. This has heen mentioned i n footnote #43. Members of the CFU who were interviewed seem to think that while the Board could not avoid granting certification under the Labour Code's provisions, the L.R.B. was not . keen to assist the Union above and beyond the imperatives imposed by the Code. I t was thought that because the area was such a controversial one, the Board wished to be seen as impartial, and thus preferred the parties to reach their own agreement. Jensen's was seen more as a test-case than as a normal case of collective bargaining. 61. The Province. September 29, 1981. 62. See Labour Relations Board of B.C. - Decision no. 11/82, p.4. 63. Ibid., p.5. 64. Ibid., p.14. 65. Barry Dong, counsel for the eight growers, was unwilling to disclose the grounds of the growers' appeals, although one of the growers (who preferred to remain anonymous) indicated that he disapproved of the Union's tactics and was intending to make i t as d i f f i c u l t as possible for them to gain access to his farm. 66. Colin Gabelmann refered to these claims i n B.C. Legislative Assembly Debates, Second Session, 1980s 4026. 67. "What This Country Did To Us I t Did To Itself", (Report of the B.C. Human Rights Commission, February, 1983), p . l 6 . 68. Ministry of Employment and Immigration release, August 31. 1982. 69. The B.C. Human Rights Commission was set up by the New Democratic Party Government's only term i n office from 1972-5' Its original head was the radical Kathleen Ruff, who was replaced by Hanne Jensen by the next Social Credit government. The incumbent head of the Branch i s Dr. Charles Paris. Hanne Jensen had taken legal advice i n 1981 to determine whether the Branch was legally qualified to deal with the CFU's complaint. After long deliberation, i t was decided that the Branch was entitled to investigate the complaint and a small-scale inquiry was begun i n May, 1981. However, government re-shuffles led to changes i n the Branch's personnel, so that the f i n a l report did not appear u n t i l February, 1983. 70. B.C. Human Rights Commission Report, p.4. 71. Ibid., pp.10-15.  -98-  72. Ibid., p.23. 73' Information supplied by Raj Chouhan, interviewed November 24, 74. Information supplied by Harinder Mahill.  1982.  -99CHAPTER FIVE "YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE LOVE" Previous chapters have argued that because British Columbia's farmworking population has been p o l i t i c a l l y powerless i n the past, there has been no incentive for governments to switch their p o l i t i c a l coquetry from the growers to the farmworkers. However, the 1980 Employment Standards Act does represent a shift i n policy i n favour of farmworkers. Thus far, this shift has been explained as being a result of pressure exerted by the CFU upon the Soci a l Credit government. The CFU's publicity campaign succeeded not only i n attracting public support, but also i n embarrassing the government, which was made to appear, at the least, negligent i n i t s protection of disadvantaged groups.  I t was argued that the hasty amendments to the laws affecting farm-  workers were prompted by the government's anxiousness to avert public censure, as well as to perhaps "take the sting out of the Union's t a i l " . * However, this chapter argues that another explanation for the amendments was the imminence of the passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, under the Constitution Act of 1981.  Undoubtedly, the repercussions of  the Charter w i l l be f e l t for many years to come, as litigation determines the functional definitions of the Charter's provisions.  However, the brief  discussion presented here w i l l deal only with the Charter as a causal factor i n the legislative changes being made crimination clauses of the Charter.  i n compliance with the non-dis-  Finally, the chapter discusses the notion  of- discriminatory purpose versus disproportionate impact, with a view to resolving the question of the validity of the 'political expediency' argument. "The People's Package" The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1981 i s now on i t s way to becoming 'fundamental law', which means that any legislation proposed by  -100Federal or Provincial governments which does not conform to i t s provisions i s automatically considered invalid.  A preliminary version of the Charter  had been offered for public debate i n 1980, a draft which, although somewhat altered during the course of the next year, contained the same basic elements as the f i n a l version.  Given that discussions of the Charter and the Constit-  ution were held between many levels of Federal and Provincial governments (and especially between the provincial Premiers and Prime Minister Trudeau, who had been pressing for such a document for many years), the B .C. government was aware of the anti-discrimination clauses which were bound to be i n cluded i n the Charter.  It also seems likely that the government bore the  Charter i n mind when i t passed the Employment Standards Act, as i t appears to have reversed many (though not a l l ) of the discriminatory provisions against farmworkers which have existed since the turn of the century. Of the "Equality Rights" provisions of the Charter, i t can be predicted that Section 15 i s the one most likely to be raised in l i t i g a t i o n .  Section  15 reads: 15 (l) Every individual i s equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, i n particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. 2 This section i s of particular relevance to farmworkers because, as we have seen i n previous chapters, they have never enjoyed either equal protection or equal benefit of the law, and as East Indians, have been discriminated against on the basis of race (as demonstrated i n Chapter Two). Section 15 (l) i s particularly important in that i t contains the "equali t y before the law" (from interpretations in English and Canadian constitutional law) with the American Fourteenth Amendment "equal protection of the law" clause.  I t also introduces two novel clauses affirming both "equality  under the law" and "equal benefit of the law".  3  Although these clauses have  -101s t l l l to be legally defined, we have also seen that farmworkers have certainly never enjoyed equal protection of (labour) laws, or equal benefit of the law, by virtue of the fact that discrimination levelled against them has been clearly pernicious to their interests, and clearly intentionally so. The case that one of the B.C. government's motivations for Employment Standards was the imperative of the Charter's non-discrimination clause i s verified by Section 32 (2).  This section delays the coming into force of  Section 15 for three years.  Peter Hogg, in his comparison of the Charter  with the previous Canadian B i l l of Rights, identifies the function of the clause: The reason for the delay i s apparently to give the two levels of government time to review their statute books and enact any amendments required to eliminate discriminatory provisions. Therefore, for three years from the coming into force of this Charter there w i l l be no effective equality clause i n the Charter. 4 The inclusion of Section 32(2)  i n the Charter indicates that both provincial  and federal levels of government are aware that legislation which discriminates against minorities (of the categories mentioned i n Section 15) i s currently in operation on the statute books. ^ However, the clause which has caused most concern among c i v i l libertarians i s the "override" clause.  The Charter, by Section 33, expressly permits  the Federal Parliament or any Provincial Legislature to exempt a statute from compliance with certain provisions of the Charter.  Section 33 ( l ) provides:  33 ( l ) Parliament or the Legislature of a province may expressly declare i n an Act of Parliament or of the Legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in s.2 or ss.7 to 15 of this Charter. 6 The "notwithstanding" clause means that a government wishing to impose a limit to a guaranteed right or freedom (or wishing to preclude any legal question under Section 1 of whether or not a particular statute i s a "reason-  -102-  able l i m i t " which can he "demonstrably j u s t i f i e d i n a free and democratic society") has the power to do so.  I t i s l i k e l y that popular opinion w i l l act  as a constraint against the l i b e r a l use of Section 33,  but i t s existence none-  theless provides a means of escape from the Charter without the necessity of a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l amendment.  I t remains to be seen whether the i n c l u s i o n of  Section 33 w i l l i n f a c t undermine the meaningfulness and purpose of the Chart e r altogether.  Whatever the case, i t i s c l e a r that the Charter o f f e r s no  unassailable guarantee of equality (or other) r i g h t s f o r m i n o r i t i e s .  The Burden of Proof As mentioned above, Section 1 of the Charter i s important, not only  be-  cause i t allows l i m i t a t i o n s to be imposed on c e r t a i n ' r i g h t s ' , but also because i t requires such l i m i t s to be j u s t i f i e d according to c e r t a i n p r i n c i p l e s . Section 1  provides: 1.  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the r i g h t s and freedoms set out i n i t subject only to such reasonable l i m i t s prescribed by law as can be demonstrably j u s t i f i e d i n a free and democratic society. 7  Although the terms of the section are somewhat vague and have yet to be  de-  f i n e d by the courts, i t i s c e r t a i n that i t r e f e r s to the burden of proof. There w i l l s t i l l be a presumption of the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of laws as i n the past, when the party a l l e g i n g the i n v a l i d i t y of a statute had to the burden of proof.  discharge  However, there i s a s h i f t i n the burden of proof as  presented i n Section 1 .  The "reasonable l i m i t s " prescribed by law w i l l have  to be "demonstrably j u s t i f i e d " by the party imposing the l i m i t s , namely, the Federal and P r o v i n c i a l governments.  Herbert Marx predicts that Section  . . . w i l l c e r t a i n l y give l i t i g a n t s a f a i r e r chance i n cont e s t i n g enactments that may be inconsistent with the Chart e r . Statutes, Orders, regulations and by-laws that are on t h e i r face offensive to the Charter would apparently be presumed i n v a l i d unless r u l e d otherwise. 8  1:  -103This shift in the burden of proof in favour of litigants follows recent developments in American constitutional law.  With the growth of the C i v i l  Rights movement in the 1960's, the U.S. Supreme Court began to address the problem of discrimination practised under the cover of facially neutral laws or o f f i c i a l decisions.  The central question was whether the emphasis should  be placed on the presence of a racially discriminatory purpose on the part of the decision-maker or on the disproportionate impact of the action taken under a facially neutral law or o f f i c i a l decision. The case of Washington v. Davis i n 1976 was highly significant in that i t addressed the question of whether proof of discriminatory purpose i s neco essary or sufficient.  The Justices concluded that a showing of dispropor-  tionate impact, standing alone, was sufficient for a constitutional claim of invidious discrimination.  However, they did not feel empowered to declare  laws unconstitutional unless a discriminatory purpose was established.  In  advocating reliance on a discriminatory purpose rather than a disproportionate impact, the Court re-affirmed the value of equal treatment, while recognizing that the harmfulness of a disproportionate impact was extremely important. However, the emphasis on discriminatory purpose i s possibly inappropriate on several grounds. F i r s t , i t i s very d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible, to prove intent i n the absence of self-confessed statements from the alleged discriminator.  John Gates notes that "rarely i s a racially discriminatory  purpose susceptible to direct p r o o f a n d that i t i s unreasonable "to assume that i l l i c i t motives would always be conceded either in testimony or i n the decision-making process".  1 1  Further, Justice Black considered the dis-  criminatory purpose standard to be pointless: [T]here i s an element of f u t i l i t y in a judicial attempt to invalidate a law because of the bad motives of i t s supporters. If the law i s struck down for this reason rather than  -104because of i t s f a c i a l content or effect, i t would presumably be valid as soon as the legislature or other relevant governing body repassed i t for different reasons. 12 In other words, i f a statute i s invalidated for i l l i c i t purposes, i t can nonetheless be readopted for l i c i t purposes. Such an action would be consistent with governments' common practices of re-enacting laws with different wording, presenting different rationales for essentially the same policies. There i s some debate over the u t i l i t y of the discriminatory purpose standard, given that i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to prove intent. A possible remedy to this problem, however, would be to require that the alleged discriminator prove that the discrimination was neither intentional or racially motivated: By shifting the burden of proof to the defendant, the presumption ensures the presentation of a l l relevant evidence and places the burden on the party who i s best able to gather such evidence. 13 Although some legal scholars have maintained that discriminatory purpose can be proved by inference, i t i s almost always possible for governments to create rationalizations for policies, arguing that discriminatory impact was neither foreseen nor planned. As Justice Stewart pointed out i n 1979« •Discriminatory purpose'...implies that...the state legislature selected or reaffirmed a particular course of action at least in part 'because o f , not merely 'in spite o f i t s adverse effects on an identifiable group. 14 Concerning minorities i n Canada, or i n our case, farmworkers, i t was possible to prove racialist motivations i n the past, when i t was freely admitted that certain laws were designed to keep "Asiatic" groups out of Canada, or at , least out of potentially powerful economic and p o l i t i c a l positions. But today, such motivation, i f present, can only be 'proved' by inference.  At best,  i t could be argued that policies have been enacted i n spite of their adverse effects on farmworkers i n recent years. Such an argument shifts the discussion to the relative weight of adverse effects i n determining whether laws are to be invalidated on the grounds that  -105they axe pernicious to the interests of minorities.  It i s possible for a law  to discriminate by intent, while not substantially harming the interests of any particular group. Therefore, the cases that concern us here axe those where the impact of discrimination i s disproportionate  and harmful.  As  Justice Skelly Wright noted: [T]he arbitrary quality of thoughtlessness can be as disastrous ...to private rights and the public interest as the perversity of a w i l l f u l scheme. 15 Glenn Manishin has discussed the cumulative effects of discrimination against minorities, suggesting that poverty, poor education and racial i s o l ation are largely a consequence of past discrimination: ...racially disproportionate impact i t s e l f i s to a large extent a consequence of...the long history of intentional discrimination...since the era of slavery...Facially neutral practices that have a racially differential impact reflect a subtle form of racism in the sense of blindness to minority welfare, a prejudice often perceived as the functional equivalent of intentional discrimination by virtue of the practical harm i t causes. 16 Manishin argues that where the harm caused by the disproportionate  impact i s  high, and facially neutral practices therefore conflict substantially with the goal of racial equality, defendants should have to "demonstrate the prac17 tice's substantial and immediate relation to neutral ends".  Manishin also  proposes that i n order to measure the degree of harm caused, courts should consider: (1) the relative degree of racially disproportionate impact} (2) the absolute number of individuals affected disadvantageously; (3) whether the group in question i s disadvantaged by other procedures i n the same f i e l d of activity} (4) whether the racial group/s in question suffers from the continuing effects of past discrimination. 18 In the  case of farmworkers, the disproportionate  impact i s substantial,  particulaxlyas they are continually singled out for exemptions from protective  -106legislatlon.  Farmworkers are, without question, disadvantaged by other pro-  cedures i n their 'field' of activity (as shown i n Chapter Three) and moreover, they are undoubtedly suffering from the effects of past discrimination.  With  compound discrimination combining past and present negative effects on the living and working conditions of farmworkers, i t seems academic to have to prove discriminatory purpose on the part of legislators.  Manishin further  suggests that where certain interests are served by policies which have disproportionate impacts (that i s , where negative impact i s admitted but justi f i e d on the grounds of 'expediency'), courts should consider: (1) the extent to which important social objectives, such as an efficient allocation of resources or the delivery of essential services, would i n fact be served by continued use of the procedure; (2) the availability of alternative procedures that could serve the 'neutral' policy aim without resulting in racially disproportionate impact; (3) the extent to which any racially disproportionate pact was foreseeable. 19  im-  As far as farmworkers are concerned, i t i s clear that disproportionate impact has been intentional, given that they were chosen from ethnic minorities who could easily be exploited and treated as cheap labour, and given that laws have been enacted specifically to herd certain minorities into the lowestpaying, lowest status jobs.  The historical basis of the current situations  of such minorities as farmworkers w i l l certainly be of central importance to future litigation, and the morality of discrimination w i l l have to be measured against the economic interests of farmers and agribusiness. What Use Is Law? Thus far, i t has been implicitly assumed that legislation represents the optimal vehicle for the redress of unjustified discrimination against ethnic minorities.  There can be l i t t l e doubt that while, by and large, the  -10?law i s an effective means of controlling behaviour, i t i s not equal to the task of inducing a change in people's hearts.  This limitation i s particul-  arly important when one considers ethnic minorities, because the most harmful forms of discrimination they suffer are i n areas beyond the reach of the law. Institutionalized and individual racism are two forms of unequal treatment which can prevent ethnic minority members from participating i n certain occupations, social activities or the 'normal' l i f e of the larger community they can deny the means towards making an adequate living and acquiring status. The B.C. Human Rights Commission Report of February, 1983, addressed this problem of the limitations of the law and concluded that: [T]he law deals with the possible; i t seeks to change what can be changed. If we do not change people's attitudes, at least l e t us change their actions. 20 If the law "embodies, to some extent, the leading notions of morality i n 21 a community",  then there i s scope for the law to affect morals.  On this  point, Poller, i n "Law, Conscience and Society", concluded: I believe that the reduction or elimination of discrimination w i l l inevitably lead to the reduction and elimination of bias and prejudice. I submit that external attitudes and behaviour influence internal convictions and emotions...This conclusion rests basically on my conviction that a l i f e of mental reservations, of hypocritical compliances and hidden hostilities i s a burden unbearable for the majority of decent human beings. 22 I f i t i s true that external behaviour influences internal convictions, then the question i s , what can more certainly create and perpetuate racism (and thus, discrimination) than state legislation, which not only sanctions but enshrines discrimination? Summary This chapter has argued that one explanation of the passage of the B.C. government's 1980 Employment Standards Act i s offered by the presence of the  -108non-discrimination clauses of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This explanation was supported by the existence of Section 32 (2), which postpones the operative date of the Equality Rights clauses for three years, apparently to give both levels of government a chance to revise their d i s c r i minatory statutes.  Two possible catches to the Charter are the "non-obstante"  and the "reasonable limits" clauses (sections 33 and 1 respectively), which allow Parliament or the provincial Legislatures to exempt certain categories of people from certain "rights" under certain circumstances. Now that the value of equality (of treatment and opportunity, protection and benefit of the law) has been affirmed by the Charter, however, i t seems highly likely that racial discrimination w i l l be the subject of much l i t i g ation.  Apart from individual suits concerning personal discrimination, one  can expect a number of cases to challenge legislative discrimination.  The  question i s then bound to arise whether proof of a discriminatory purpose i s required, or whether proof of a disproportionately harmful impact i s sufficient to invalidate discriminatory laws.  In any case, the burden of proof  seems to be shifting i n favour of litigants contesting the validity of statutes, leaving the onus on alleged discriminators to prove that negative effects are either not intentionally harmful, or are a justified sacrifice to some greater end. For groups such as farmworkers, victims of both historical and current discrimination, the Charter could be of immense significance, as i t w i l l give them recourse to 'fundamental law', and could decide how they are to be treated i n the future. I t i s tempting to believe that the situation of groups like farmworkers i s an unfortunate hang-over from the past.  In fact, i t i s  an unfortunate consequence of our willingness now to continue to treat some unseen and seldom heard sections of the Canadian community as second class citizens.  I t i s this not-so-benign neglect that the Charter w i l l challenge.  -109Footnotes 1.  Jagjiv Kartha, student of Agricultural Relations, interviewed March 24, 1983.  2.  See the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, i n The Constitution Act of 1981, Section 15 ( l ) • In fact, during the debates over the equality clauses, one of the main concerns was that f a c i l i t i e s could not be provided for the physically disabled i n a l l public places without great expenditures by Federal and provincial governments. The prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race was apparently a foregone conclusion, and disagreements generally concerned the wording of the section.  3.  For a good discussion of the differentiation between these ostensibly similar terms, see W. Tarnopolsky and Gerald Beaudoin, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - A Commentary. (Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, 1982), Chapter 13, "The Equality Rights", pp.359-6.  4.  Peter Hogg, "A Comparison of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the Canadian B i l l of Rights", i n Tarnopolsky and Beaudoin, op. c i t . , p.20.  5.  Of course, there may be many laws which inadvertently discriminate against ethnic minorities, i n conjunction with other factors, such as poor education, which may deny access to certain jobs etc. The compound effects of discrimination i n multiple areas may incapacitate minority group members to a massive extent, so that the sum of discriminatory effects i s much greater than each of their separate parts. However, for the purposes of compliance with Section 15, Federal and provincial governments can only try to remove elements of discrimination which can be demonstrated as having direct effects.  6.  I t i s significant that the "notwithstanding" (or "non-obstante") clause applies to the "equality rights" sections (as well as to Sections 2, 7, 8, 9» 10 and l l ) , which are probably the most important provisions of the Charter.  7.  Section 1 clearly suffers from the common inexactitude of many such constitutional documents, presumably to allow for differential interpretations through the courts, until a workable definition i s found. Unfortunately, with no definition of "reasonable limits" included i n the Charter, and no c r i t e r i a by which limits must be "demonstrably justified", i t may be possible for offending governments to concoct justifications, secure in the knowledge that any state enactment i s presumed constitutional unless proven otherwise. I t i s also interesting to note the unquestioned assumption that Canada i s , i n fact, a "free and democratic society", and that there w i l l be general agreement on the point. I t would be d i f f i c u l t to assume that those minorities who bear the brunt of various forms of discrimination have the same definition of "free and democratic" as i s taken as a given i n the Charter.  8.  Herbert Marx, "Entrenchment, Limitation and Non-Obstante", i n Tarnopolsky and Beaudoin, op. c i t . , p.70.  -1109.  John B. Gates, "The Supreme Court and the Debate Over Discriminatory Purpose and Disproportionate Impact", in the Loyola Law Review. Vol.26, 1980, p.597' Washington v. Davis (1976) was a case where the p l a i n t i f f s , two black men, had failed a written examination for the Washington Police Department, and claimed that the language of the test discriminated against members of ethnic minorities. The court of appeals found that while the test was used throughout the C i v i l Service to measure verbal a b i l i t y , i t bore no demonstrable relation to job performance. The court therefore ruled that, under the employment provisions of T i t l e V l l of the C i v i l Rights Act of 1964, the disproportionate impact, standing alone, invalidated the test.  10. Gates, op. c i t . , p.604. 11.  403 U.S. 217 (1971) at p.225.  12. Gates, op. c i t . , p.600. 13. 442 U.S.  (1973) at p.279.  14. Quoted by Glenn Manishin in "Section 1981: Discriminatory Purpose or Disproportionate Impact?", Columbia Law Review. Vol.80, 1980, p . l 6 4 . 15. Manishin, op. c i t . , p.l60. 16. Ibid., p.168. l ? . Ibid., p.I69. 18. Ibid., p.169. 19. Ibid., p.170. 20. "I'm Okay, We're Not So Sure About You", Part 11 of the Report of the B.C. Human Rights Commission on Extensions to the Code, February 1983, p.11. 21. Morroe Berger, Equality By Statutet Legal Controls Over Group Discrimination, (Columbia University Press, 1952), p.-73« 22. S. Poller, "Law, p.491.  Conscience and Society", Lawyers Guild Review. VI (1946),  -111CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSION WITHOUT AN END We want justice...We want a f a i r wage and an end to discrimination. We want the same rights as other people have in Canadian society. No favours, just equality. No speci a l privileges, just recognition under the law. No separate classification, just the right to be workers. (Raj Chouhan, President of the CFU) The notions of 'justice', fairness, equal treatment, 'rights' and recognition have been some of the underlying themes of this thesis.  They have  also formed the foundations of the Canadian Farmworkers Union's struggle for parity with other workers i n British Columbia.  It has been shown (in Chapter  Two) that discrimination against farmworkers i n B.C. has historical roots i n discrimination against Asian immigrants, dating from the early 1900's.  Racial  prejudice against "Asiatics" was manifested in a series of governmental measures which opened and closed immigration of 'non-whites' as the economy warranted.  East Indians were at times allowed entry to B.C. specifically to be-  come farm or domestic labour. However, they were denied the franchise (at Federal, provincial and municipal levels) and their access to certain occupations was prohibited by law.  In the absence of labour and housing standards  for farmworkers, the government further ensured that farmworkers would remain i n a subordinate position by passing the Minimum Wage Act of 1925-  The pur-  pose of this act was to channel Asians out of well-paying jobs into low-paying, low-status jobs, namely farm and domestic work. In addition, governments were always careful to include 'escape' clauses i n a l l legislation pertaining to Asians i n various occupations. The results of these measures which either omitted or excluded farmworkers from protective labour legislation are manifested i n the present living and working conditions of thousands of B.C. farmworkers. With discrimination o f f i c i a l l y sanctioned by the law, there have been many opportunities for  -112growers and contractors to exploit workers (though they have not a l l availed themselves of these opportunities).  The results ares demonstrably inadequate  l i v i n g quarters and sanitary f a c i l i t i e s on many B.C. farms; the retention of the archaic piece-rate system, which denies hourly minimum wages and penalizes workers at the mercy of inclement weather or sparse crops at the shoulder ends of the harvesting season; the widespread abuse of pesticides in the absence of minimum safety standards; the lack of Workers' Compensation for agricultural labourers, despite the fact that farmwork i s the third most dangerous occupation i n Canada. B.C. governments, especially i n recent years, have demonstrated an awareness of the conditions prevalent i n farmwork today. The issues, or rather, grievances, have been brought to the attention of the Legislature and government by several M.L.A.s, since at least 1972.  Social Credit governments have  commissioned studies, most of which have affirmed the feasibility of extending the protective coverage of Workers' Compensation, minimum wages and other benefits to farmworkers. However, i t was not until 1980 that action was taken, i n the form of the Employment Standards Act. Meanwhile, the force of farmworkers as a pressure group had begun to be f e l t , as f i r s t the Farmworkers Organizing Committee, and then the f u l l - f l e d ged Canadian Farmworkers Union succeeded i n attracting public support for "the cause". The purpose of the struggle was to attain justice, equal opportunity and equal treatment before the law for farmworkers. The means of the struggle were to be a set of strategies and tactics, which were modified according to the Union's increasing strength and credibility.  These strategies  were two-prongeds on one hand, preliminary (and on-going) strategies attempted to recruit Union members and a following of sympathetic 'other' individuals; on the other hand, strategies evolved which were designed for the conf l i c tual battle with the growers, contractors and ultimately, the government.  -113The Theory Revisited The discussion has shown that the theory presented in Chapter One ately predicted the strategies utilized by the CFU.  accur-  In the I n i t i a l stages of  organization, the would-be Union adopted strategies designed to create a sense of common consciousness and purpose among farmworkers, to convince them that conditions could and should be changed and to offer means by which economic and 'symbolic' benefits (such as 'rights') could be won.  The FWOC app-  ealed to the farmworkers' sense of 'righteousness', the feeling that the struggle against racial discriminators was inherently valuable, regardless of the practical benefits to be won. The Union's strategies of conflict were also consistent with the predictions of the model. In the f i r s t stages of relative powerlessness, the FWOC (then CFU) attempted to persuade growers, contractors and government to i n i tiate changes, by pointing out the 'reality' of farmworking conditions, which the leaders considered to be self-evidently unsatisfactory. However, when persuasion failed, attempts to 'embarrass' the government were made through a press campaign highlighting the incongruities between treatment of farm labourers as against other B.C. workers. This publicity campaign accrued the additional benefits of increased public and trade union support, which resulted i n an augmentation of the group's pecuniary and human resources.  As the  group's power increased and the FWOC gained recognition as a bona fide trade union, the range of available strategies likewise expanded, so that bargaining became the predominant means of attempting to secure benefits for farmworkers.  Finally, moving into the sphere of legitimate trade union conduct,  the CFU utilized 'coercive' tactics, such as strikes and boycotts. In order to induce a change in the dominant party's willingness to concede benefits, the CFU normally demanded more than i t actually expected to gain.  Both the quantity and the quality of desired benefits demanded were  -114kept higher than expectations warranted, so that resultant compromises raised the Union's position ever higher on successive demand curves (see pages 15 to 16).  However, i t could he argued that the gains represented by the Employment  Standards Act i n fact overshot the optimal mark of incremental progress required for the purposes of sustaining the support of the membership. The model presented i n Chapter One proved similarly efficacious i n i t s predictions of the strategies of the other major party to the conflict, the B.C. government. Historically (and currently), B.C. governments have availed themselves of the techniques outlined at various points, and the selection of these techniques has varied with the relative power of the dominant group as against the minority, as well as the climate of white public opinion. For the f i r s t half of this century, public antipathy against 'visible' ethnic minorities enabled governments to wield their enormous power without restraint.  The 'insulation' technique involved denying such minorities access  to certain occupations, the vote, and sometimes the means to earn an adequate living.  However, as the winds of public opinion changed and became more  'liberalized', governments switched to sanctions (both positive, such as recognition, and negative, such as denying the right to unionize) and 'persuasion' as the appropriate means of control.  The most recent Social Credit  government, moreover, has, to an extent, pre-empted the CFU by conceding to most of i t s demands i n one f e l l swoop (though notably not the most important ones, such as minimum wages and Workers' Compensation). However, the model has failed on two counts.  In the f i r s t place, there  has been no real attempt to co-opt group leaders (with the possible exception of Mr. Mahill, now an Industrial Relations Officer, though he argues to the contrary).  In the second place, i n concentrating on active strategies for  maintaining dominant group control, the model has overlooked passive strategies.  The discussion has shown that rather than take positive steps to  -Insubordinate the farmworkers* pressure group, the government has instead simply ignored i t s demands and interests for many years.  This ability to ignore a  pressure group such as farmworkers can be attributed to two main factors. F i r s t , Social Credit governments owe a significant proportion of their electoral support to the farming community and consequently must pander to the demands of farmers and their powerful representative, the B.C. Federation of Agriculture.  Second, i t i s clear that the CFU, with a limited membership,  limited resources and limited influence within government and bureaucratic circles, i s simply not a powerful force to be reckoned with, i n comparison to i t s opposite numbers. Therefore, apart from the fact that there has a l ways been a 'special relationship' between governments and farmers, the former can ignore farmworkers, secure i n the knowledge that they are not a significant voting bloc. Consequently, i n terms of the action-response dynamic, governments can, and have, been able to leave such subordinate minority groups as farmworkers floundering i n isolation.  Governments have therefore no i n -  centive to try to return to equilibrium points, because they are not threatened significantly by the minority group. The latter's support base then, can easily dwindle away, as the group i s not seen to be achieving any substantial gains. Implications for the Future A dwindling support base i s one of the problems with which the CFU i s currently beset.  Its membership seems to have reached a plateau at sixteen  hundred, or approximately twelve per cent of the total number of farmworkers who work i n the Fraser Valley.  There i s a number of possible explanations  for the curtailment of new recruitment.  First, the CFU has never made a con-  certed effort to enlarge grass roots membership, because i t has preferred to 'go public', i n the hope of achieving speedy results to establish i t s credib-  -116111ty and efficiency.  It was hoped that achievement would be the spur to en-  larged support, whereby farmworkers would be able to perceive the immediate benefits of unionization through action rather than words. However, this hope has 'back-fired' to the extent that the immediate benefits secured by the Union have precipitated the "free rider" problem. For example, many farmers and contractors this season are offering what appears to be a minimum hourly rate (although this may i n fact mean that farmworkers w i l l not be able to earn above that minimum) and the employers are now certainly more cautious about paying wages regularly and keeping work records.  This means that farm-  workers i n general are experiencing some of the benefits of unionization, without themselves having to participate i n 'the struggle*. A second explanation of the zero-growth of the Union's membership i s the problem of 'burn out'.  A number of organizers have dropped out of active  participation due to the immense pressures involved in organizing under conditions of adversity.  Most Union workers operate after their own jobs, in  the evenings and at weekends, A further important consideration i s that CFU organizers are voluntary (therefore unremunerated for their effort), and i t i s d i f f i c u l t to sustain morale. A third explanation for the staticity of numbers i s offered by the s t i l l prevalent mode of employer-employee relations practised on East Indian-owned farms.  Female workers are s t i l l operating under the  paternalistic 'protec-  tion' of their employers, and, according to farmworkers Interviewed, are i n timidated by threats of mechanization, should they attempt to unionize.  A  fourth explanation i s that the Employment Standards Act has obviated the i n centives of many farmworkers to undertake the arduous and potentially dangerous task of unionizing. In addition to the problem of sustaining i t s support base, the CFU currently faces severe monetary d i f f i c u l t i e s .  Although the Canadian Labour Con-  -117gress i s donating approximately $3,000 per month for the upkeep of the New Westminster office, no money i s available for full-time paid o f f i c i a l s , while many members are unhappy about having to pay $5.00 a month i n dues. The  two  other CFU offices, in Ontario and the Okanagan, have been closed and are no longer viable or active. Although C.L.C. support i s forthcoming at present, there i s no guarantee that sufficient funds can and w i l l be chanelled to the CFU indefinitely.  It i s possible that i f the Union i s not seen to be making  substantial progress towards becoming financially viable and self-sustaining, the costs of keeping i t alive may become too d i f f i c u l t for the C.L.C. to justify to i t s membership. The CFU s t i l l has only six certifications (out of several hundred farms amenable to unionization in the Fraser Valley) and only four contracts.  The  largest, most protracted battle for certification was at Jensen's, but the Union has not managed to win at Driediger's, which i s one of the largest farms i n the Valley.  The contracts won only cover about one hundred workers,  which i s only seven per cent of the CFU's total membership. The relative scarcity of certifications and contracts then, i s another factor which detracts from the Union's credibility as an effective pressure group. However, according to Raj Chouhan, this season there are some ten organizers at work in the Valley, and the Union hopes to win at least two c e r t i f ications in the coming months. Chouhan appears confident that the Union w i l l be able to survive i t s present d i f f i c u l t i e s , although he realizes that i t could take several years before the CFU can claim to be a strong organization. Certainly, i t would be unrealistic at this point to believe otherwise. Some Tentative Solutions There are two categories of solutions which seem imperative at present. On the one hand, there are plausible solutions to the 'problems' which are  -118-  at the root of the CFU's grievances.  On the other hand, solutions to the  Union's immediate problems of survival are urgently needed. The  four outstanding areas which must "be resolved in the f i r s t category  are (l) living conditions on the farms; (2) minimum wages and piece-rates; (3)  safety and health standards, especially those directed at the safe use of  pesticides; and (4) Workers' Compensation. The two most likely remedies to the problem of unsafe and unsanitary l i v i n g conditions are: (a) government-subsidized housing on Crown lands (Charan G i l l ' s suggestion - see pages 48 to 49);  or (b) government subsidies  to farmers to upgrade present 'accomodation' or to build new units. Of the two, the f i r s t seems less practical, i f only because i t would be more costly. The second solution appears to be more feasible.  Grants could take the form  of lump-sum payments, where the government contributed a percentage of the total costs of renovation or new construction. take the form of tax deductions.  Alternatively, subsidies could  Certainly, i f government i s prepared to pro-  vide tax deductions or outright grantsto private home-owners for modernization, i t could similarly be done for farmers. The government would also stand to make some 'political capital' from a benevolent step designed to rectify the archaic and unsavoury nature of agricultural exploitation. As far as minimum wages are concerned, the government has seen f i t to prescribe minimum rates per pound of produce, and farmers and contractors themselves are beginning to offer the equivalent of hourly rates. There i s no reason why a minimum hourly rate could not be implemented, with a supplementary piece-rate to reward faster workers.  As labour accounts for only  9$ of the total costs of production (and pesticides account for 60^), and as the former Minister of Manpower and Immigration (the late Robert Andras) admitted that the doubling of farmworkers' wages would add only 1.5 cents per pound to the r e t a i l cost of tomatoes (see page 77),  for example, there seems  -119to be no  reason why minimum hourly rates would be prohibitively costly.  Health and safety standards on B.C. farms are long overdue. In the face of several deaths due to pesticide abuse, many pesticide-related diseases and hundreds of accidents on farms due to unsafe farm machinery and inadequate training, the government has, u n t i l very recently, maintained a "laissezfaire" approach to the welfare of farmworkers.  Although the government has  recently announced the creation of a "farm safety agency", education alone w i l l not be sufficient to ensure that farmworkers can now look forward to a reasonably safe working environment. As well as an education programme, s t r i c t regulations are required, along with insurance of enforcement through an inspectorate with the power to impose penalties for non-compliance with the regulations. Finally, for those cases where injuries occur regardless of safety regulations, farmworkers can and ought to be covered by Workers' Compensation i n the same way as workers i n less dangerous industries are covered.  The  B.C. government had considered extension of coverage to farmworkers feasible just one year ago, and has offered no explanation for i t s failure to honour i t s promises.  The explanation put forward i n this thesis i s that the rever-  sal was a timely election ploy, designed to woo the farm vote.  I f this i s  the case, then extension of coverage i s economically, i f not p o l i t i c a l l y , feasible.  Given that farmworkers suffer the highest rate of occupational  disease and injury i n Canada, justice alone dictates that their inclusion i n the Workers' Compensation i s a necessity i n a "free and democratic society", as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms proclaims Canada to be. Indeed, i t i s possible for the CFU to use the W.C.B. reversal to highlight the government's apparent unwillingness to fend for the rights and i n terests of minorities.  The three-year delay of the operative date of the  Equality Rights clauses of the Charter expires i n 1984.  These clauses Affect  -120groups like the farmworkers, who have suffered historical and contemporary discrimination, and who have never enjoyed equal protection or benefit of, under or before the law.  However, i t i s unlikely that the Social Credit gov-  ernment w i l l be unduly upset by charges of neglect of minorities, given that i t has a recently renewed mandate and a huge majority i n the B.C. Legislature. Indeed, another development which i s disturbing to c i v i l libertarians, i s the abolition of both the Human Rights Commission and the B.C. Human Rights Branch. According to the terms of the Budget released on July 8th, 1983, the Human Rights Commission and Branch are to be replaced by an informal agency, which has the right to refuse to investigate complaints i f i t considers them " t r i v i a l " .  At present, i t appears that the Canadian Charter of  Rights and Freedoms w i l l have a negligible effect on British Columbians. In my opinion, the CFU's continued survival w i l l depend upon i t s a b i l i t y to carry out several important tasks. First, the Union must develop i t s grass roots support base among farmworkers, i f , that i s , i t i s true that there i s strength i n numbers. One of the Union's problems i s that i t has relied from the outset upon the support of individuals other than farmworkers. Indeed, a significant proportion of i t s actual members are "white liberals" (social workers, teachers, c i v i l libertarians, lawyers and so forth), a fact which may well be more of a hindrance than a help to the Union, as i t damages the Union's claim to be a "farmworkers union".  One reason why the CFU has  enjoyed more success at organizing B.C. (and specifically, Fraser Valley) farmworkers, i s the ethnic (that i s , East Indian) composition of the farm labour force, and the predominantly East Indian leadership of the Union. I f the CFU hopes to use ethnicity as a spur to in=group solidarity, then i t may be necessary to discard i t s white middle-class membership altogether. Second, the CFU must develop i t s own resource base and loosen i t s dependence on other trade unions for monetary support (and this may involve Ite&ving  -121its  laxge office).  Third, the Union w i l l have to decide whether i t i s to be  an external pressure group, which can win concessions by virtue of i t s own power, as opposed to the influence of powerful 'others' (such as other unions, politicians, etc). Fourth, the CFU might have to revert to some of i t s former strategies, such as persuasion and bargaining, and w i l l certainly have to look for new and innovative strategies by which to create and sustain group support, and to induce desired changes at the structural and legislative levels.  What i s certain i s that there are no simple answers to the complex  process of attempting to organize such a scattered group of traditionally subordinated workers. Likewise, there i s no simple winning formula for making  privileged others share resources more equitably. The Canadian Farmwork-  ers  Union w i l l undoubtedly rely upon the strengths provided by i t s dedicated,  hard-working organizers. I t i s to be hoped that those organizers w i l l be able to tap the inspiration and creativity demanded by the powerless. Epilogue P o l i t i c a l developments of the last week raise further doubts about the a b i l i t y of the Canadian Farmworkers Union to survive i n the immediate future. It has already been mentioned that the Social Credit government announced a Budget on July 8th, 1983.  The abolition of the B.C. Human Rights Branch (a  department of the Ministry of Labour) and the Human Rights Commission i s only one of a series of measures taken by the government i n violation of i t s own legislation.  The B.C. Human Rights Code i s s t i l l on the statute books. I t  i s s t i l l , therefore, legally required. However, the Commission's officers have been suspended from their duties, although they are being paid u n t i l October, when their contract expires. The government has offered no explanation as to why the Commissioners have been so summarily dismissed from service, a fact which does not square well with the government's claim of trying  -122curb public spending.  The suspensions are i n direct contravention of both  B.C.'s and Canada's Human Rights provisions. Meanwhile, B i l l 3, the "Public Sector Restraint Act", i s part of the government's preparations to f i r e 250,000 c i v i l servants, and the new laws w i l l enable the government to "terminate" public service employees without explanation.  Apart from massive cuts i n health care, education and other  services, the Social Credit government plans to pass a series of twenty-six enabling acts which w i l l i n effect take away the hard-won rights of many of B.C.'s citizens from renters to university professors. The main focus of the multiple-pronged attack, however, i s arguably aimed at the trade union movement. The government i s trying to make i t more d i f f i c u l t to get unions certified, and much easier to get unions decertified. Furthermore, contrary to the common practice of extending old contracts while new ones are being negotiated, the government i s now ruling that old contracts w i l l expire on their formal dates.  This means that employers w i l l be  able to pay their employees anything they like u n t i l a new agreement i s reached, and this w i l l obviously put more pressure on unions to make hasty agreements. But perhaps the most daring move by the Socreds i s an attempt to abolish the idea of minimum wages altogether, for a l l workers. This would mean that no person offering their s k i l l s on the labour market could count on making adequate returns for their efforts. The cavalier attitude of the Social Credit government i n defying their own (and every other government's) laws i s remarkable.  The utter contempt  for human, c i v i l and employment rights displayed by the Socreds leaves l i t t l e hope for subordinated groups like the farmworkers. Indeed, the question of raising farmworkers up to the status and standards of everyone else i n B.C. i s now an academic one.  The Socreds clearly intend to achieve equality by  bringing everyone else down to the level of the farmworkers.  -123-  Bibliography Anderson, A.B. and Frideres, J.S. Ethnicity i n Canada - Theoretical Perspectives. Butterworth and Co.: Vancouver, 1981. Angus, H.F. "The Legal Status in B.C. of Residents of Oriental Races and their Descendants". In McKenzie, N.A.M. The Legal Status of Aliens i n Pacific Countries. Oxford University Press: London, 1937. Bergen, Walter. "Final Report to the Secretary of State: Racism Awareness Project". Unpublished: Matsqui Abbotsford Community Services, 1982. Berger, Morroe. Equality by Statute: Legal Controls over Group Discrimination. Columbia University Press, 1952. 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Racial Discrimination i n Canada. R & E Research Associates: San Francisco, 1973* Coser, L. The Functions of Social Conflict. Free Press: Glencoe, I l l i n o i s , 1956. Dahlie, J . and Fernando, T. Ethnicity. Power and Politics i n Canada. Methuen: Toronto, 1981. Das, Rajahi Kanta. "Hindustani Workers on the Pacific Coast". Walter de Gruyter: Berlin, 1923. Dodd, Balbinder Singh. "Social Change i n Two Overseas Sikh Communities". B.A. Honours Essay, Sociology Department, University of British Columbia, 1972.  -124Ferguson, Ted. A White Man's Country8 An Exercise i n Canadian Prejudice. MacMillans Toronto, 1 9 7 5 . Gamson, W.A.  Power and Discontent. Dorsey Press: I l l i n o i s , 1 9 6 8 .  Gamson, W.A.  The Strategy of Social Protest. Dorsey Press: I l l i n o i s ,  1975•  Gates, John B. "The Supreme Court and the Debate over Discriminatory Purpose and Disproportionate Impact". Loyola Law Review: 26 ( 1 9 8 O ) . Gladstone, Arthur. "The Conception of the Enemy". 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The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms- A Commentary. Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, 1982. Ward, Peter. White Canada Forever. Queen's University Press: McGill, 1978. Wirth, Louis. "The Problem of Minority Groups". In Kurokawa, M. Minority Responses: Comparative Views of Reactions to Subordination. Random House: New York, 1970. Wood, John. "East Indians and Canada's New Immigration Policy". Canadian Public Policy Autumn, 1978. Woodsworth, J.S. Strangers Within Our Gates. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 1972.  -126Appendlx A Key Finding of the Agricultural Pesticides and Health Survey, (a project of the Matsqui Ahbotsford Community Services, October, 1982). A.  Characteristics of the Farmworker Sample (272  farmworkers)  - the majority (69.4%) have worked three years or more i n farmwork - the majority (71.7%) work more than four months per year i n the fields - over half work more than 11 hours per day i n the peak season - 51$ make less than $3,000 per year from farmwork - almost one quarter were over 50 years of age - the majority do not read or speak English - 17% have children and three-quarters of those children aged ?-l4 are working i n the fields with their parents. B.  Pesticide Exposure and Health - almost one-fifth often breathe pesticide fumes while working - 8 out of 10 regularly suffer from direct contact with pesticides and a majority (55%) have been directly sprayed - 79• 5% have had to work immediately after a spraying - more than 25% have had their living quarters sprayed - 7 out of 10 became physically i l l after a direct spraying, yet only 3.3% of growers got medical help for their workers.  C.  Pesticide-related Symptoms - only 7«4% of the sample experienced no symptoms - 44% had suffered from skin rashes, 47% from itching - over 50% reported headaches, 35% had experienced dizziness - 32-52% reported various central nervous system disorders - 17% suffered from gastro-intestinal problems - 95% f e l t that at least some of these symptoms were related to farmwork - almost 60% of the children farmworking had the same symptoms - 22% of the light-exposure group had over three symptoms and 44% of the heavy-exposure group, showing a high correlation of exposure to symptoms but also a high level of general exposure for a l l farmworkers.  -127D.  General  - only lk% were sure that f i r s t - a i d was a v a i l a b l e - almost 70$ have no proper wash-up f a c i l i t i e s - almost 80$ have no choice but to eat lunch i n sprayed f i e l d areas - the vast majority are not always provided with clean drinking water - 1 out of 5 had missed work due to work-related health problems - only 8.7#  had access to information on what pesticide they had been  exposed to - 88$ had been given no i n s t r u c t i o n as to p e s t i c i d e hazards.  -128Appendix B The B.C. Human Rights Commission f u l l y endorses the following recommendations t 1) A l l exclusions and exceptions of farmworkers currently i n place under the Employment Standards Act be removed, allowing farmworkers to enjoy the same protection as a l l other workers 2) That the Industrial Camp Regulations be implemented and applied immediately.... 3) Laws should be enacted to guarantee that a l l Canadian farmworkers have adequate showers, change rooms and laundry f a c i l i t i e s . Also, protective clothing and equipment should be required where necessary Further, with regard to protection of farmworkers from pesticides, we f u l l y endorse the recommendations made by the B.C. Medical Association (Environmental Health Committee) to the Workers* Compensation Board of B.C. (October 1982). These ares 1) Laws should be enacted to guarantee that Canadian farmworkers have adequate protective f a c i l i t i e s as specified by the Workers' Compensation Board. 2) Specific standards should be legislated to govern the specifications, maintenance and inspection of pesticide equipment. 3) The Workers' Compensation Board should undertake to ensure that pesticide applicators and users on farms under W.C.B. jurisdiction are subject to the same certification provisions as those for applicators and users of pesticides on public lands. 4) Farmworkers who enter fields after spraying should be given necessary safety information i n a manner understood by them. Safety information should include the identification and hazards of chemicals being used and should be provided to the worker on i n formation sheets. Applicators should ensure that adequate notice i s given to high-risk individuals (e.g. pregnant women and young children) on the farm prior to spraying. 5) The Workers* Compensation Board should urge the establishment of legislated minimum re-entry periods and mandatory posting of warning signs after application of certain pesticides. Warning signs should be placed i n English and i n a form understandable by the majority of workers. A comprehensive l i s t of those pesticides should be drawn up by Health and Welfare Canada i n co-operation with Environment Canada and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. 6) Pre-harvest entry periods should be established, based on residue dynamics, mode of action and the toxicity of each pesticide for both adults and children.  -129-  7) Maximum exposure levels should be sought for a l l pesticides. 8) The W.C.B.'s general provisions concerning f i r s t - a i d standards should apply to farms based on size and other factors, as they have done for other industries, taking particular note of exposure to pesticides. 9) Suspected cases of pesticide poisoning should be reportable to the W.C.B. and included as a separate category of accident i n the accident statistics. 10) The W.C.B. should be encouraged to undertake regular selective monitoring of the environment and work force to ensure compliance with the regulations. The W.C.B. should fund epidemiological studies of workers at risk, i n co-operation with other jurisdictions, to avoid duplication of effort. 11) To ensure the a b i l i t y to conduct meaningful epidemiologic studies, the W .C .B. should require farm operators to keep records of a l l pesticide applications.  (From "What This Country Did To Us I t Did To Itself", A Report of the B.C. Human Rights Commission on the Farmworkers and Domestic Workers, February, 1983, PP. 23-25.)  


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