Montréal: A farm worker in hunger strike

Note: A reason beyond our control forces us to modify the text of M. Santos. Changes are indicated by typographic brackets [ ]

My name is Noé Ricardo Arteaga Santos, I am a former worker [of a Quebec company that produces greenhouse tomatoes and former member of the workers' union of the same company]. I was dismissed in an unjust and arbitrary way for the simple fact of having fought for the respect of the contract which bound me to this said company.

Companies continually lie to temporary farm workers and contract terms are never honored. Despite the fact that we have some contractual services, they are not honored : for example, they refuse to pay us overtime and holidays and they force us to work on holidays. Any attitude that the company supervisors interpret as inappropriate leads to a threat on their part to return us to our countries., as was my case, without payment of our wages and benefits due, such as the week of notice, etc., even deducting the price of the plane ticket from us and preventing our family members from participating in the temporary work program. Organizations, such as the International Organization for Immigration which participates in the organization of temporary agricultural work programs, are complicit in this situation, thereby violating international labor law and conventions adopted within the framework of the International Labor Organization. The simple fact of having reported this situation resulted in my dismissal and my separation from the temporary worker program. The one who is directly responsible for this is the Consulate General of Guatemala in Montreal which is in charge of this program.

That's why I took legal action against [my former employer], so that I can get my job back, from which I was separated as I have already mentioned in an arbitrary and absolutely illegal manner. The company reacted to this legal action by defamatoryly accusing me of being a murderer and a bad worker..

The Quebec labor authorities have scheduled an arbitration for me, the hearing of which may take place between December 2010 and February 2011. During this time, I have to live on insufficient social assistance as a refugee since the simple fact of having taken legal action against the company, by also empowering the Guatemalan Consulate, entails that I am in mortal danger if I return to my country. In front of this situation, I have decided to start an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Guatemalan consulate with the objective of obtaining a fair situation for agricultural workers, my relocation within the company, my acceptance as a refugee, the acceptance of all people without status and against the implementation of new reforms related to the temporary agricultural worker.

5 replies
  1. Noah Arteaga
    Noah Arteaga says:

    Montreal, 31 from December 2009
    Sirs (as) OIM:
    The reason for this is to request the person in charge of repatriation or reimbursement of money. I would like to recover my Q 4,000.00 deposit quetzales since that money for me is an important sum since in no part of Guatemala they give you that amount of money.
    At the Consulate of Guatemala they told me that they can't do anything so in a polite way please I ask you to deposit it to my Banrural account, Although when I speak with Mrs. Jacqueline, she says that the rules are very clear, she cannot reimburse me. However, I hope they take the considerations since my end of the breach of my contract was unfair.
    My money account is 3029009529 and I do not need the interest that was going to earn just the 4,000.00 quetzales. I wait a maximum of fifteen days, for any answer or denial of the deposit of my account you can do it to my phone (438)321-4928 or my email [email protected] or to the fax of the Center for Immigrant Workers at 514-227-2268.
    Because I made my decision to return to Guatemala not to waste my time, but they didn't even have the time to listen to me about what really happens in that greenhouse. Now that I'm back here in Canada, I look at the possibility that there may be that they listen to me..
    I have my card and I am waiting for proof of deposit to any of the aforementioned Media and I hope they do not freeze it.
    If not, I will be forced to take action with the Guatemalan media, since the Consul Federico Urruela says it is my right. In case of no results, I will seek legal help in Guatemala.
    Hoping that it can, And if they take repression against my brother Ivan who participates in the program, I hope they explain to him that it is not my fault and if you take the measures it will already be a problem between you..
    And any other repression that they take with the demographic place where I live, I hope that it is no longer my fault., since that has been said by Mr. Rene Mantha or the former Head of the OIM Mission Günter Müssig that they would close the program in Guatemala that is their decision without incriminating me.
    Noah Ricardo Arteaga Santos
    Former Temporary Worker Program Worker (OIM)
    15 Calendar days or this letter circulates on some websites and in French and English versions.

  2. Noah Arteaga
    Noah Arteaga says:

    To whom it May concern,

    The purpose of this letter is to request a refund. The person concerned wanted to recover my 4,000.00 quetzales from a deposit I made. This money is for me a large sum, since in Guatemala I do not have easy access to a similar sum.

    The Consulate of Guatemala informed me that they were unable to process the refund.. Pra against, with all my respect, I ask you to help me in these reimbursement procedures and to deposit the sum of 4,000.00 quetzales in my Banrural account. Following an interview with Mrs. Jacqueline, she informed me that the rules are not very clear and that she could not proceed with the refund. However, I hope you will take into consideration the unfair way in which my contract was broken. My money account is the 3029009529 and I don't need the interest that was leaving to earn the 4,000.00 quetzales.

    I will wait fifteen days for a response or denial concerning my refund request to my account. You can reach me at the following number: (438) 321-4928 or by e-mail : [email protected] or by fax from the Immigrant Workers Center to (514) 227-2268.

    Following my return to Guatemala, my decision to return to Canada was to testify to the events that occurred during my employment with Savoura and during the performance of my work in the greenhouses. I would like to be listened to and treated with dignity.

    I have my credit card and am waiting for my refund request to my account through any of the means mentioned.

    If not, I will be entitled to take steps with the media in Guatemala, as confirmed by Consul Federico Urruela.

    Furthermore, if you or any other organization, attempt to take repressive actions against my brother Ivan who is also involved in the program, as well as any other repression related to the demographic place where I live, I hope you will be kind enough to explain to him that it is not my fault and that at this time it is about internal problems between you. Mr. Rene Mantha and the former Head of the OIM Mission Günter Müssig affirmed that, in the event that the program closure in Guatemala occurs, it will be their decision, and would not imply any charge against me.


    Noah Ricardo Arteaga Santos

    Ex-Temporary Worker Program Worker (OIM)


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