Transport of Farm Workers Proves Fatal Again

Questions Raised About Safety and Inspection of Farm Transport Vehicles

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2011) - A crash that killed four poultry farm workers in Quebec, and injured four others is just the latest tragedy involving farm workers injured or killed while being trucked to or from Canadian agriculture operations. While it is still not clear why a van carrying eight poultry farm workers veered and hit a school bus head on near the town of Berthierville, Quebec, it is raising questions once again about vehicle safety and inspection when it comes to transporting farm workers.

"Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of the men who died, and we pray the surviving workers make a good recovery," says Louis Bolduc, the executive assistant to the national president of UFCW Canada. For more than two decades UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for farm worker rights and workplace safety. In association with the Agriculture Workers Association, UFCW Canada operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including two in Quebec.

"What caused this tragedy is for the police to determine," says Bolduc. "What we do know is that farm workers who come to our centers have often told us they are trucked around, crammed into vans with no seatbelts, or even on top of boxes in the back of a truck or tractor."

Last October, eight migrant farm workers in British Columbia were hospitalized after the tractor cart they were being hauled in was rear ended by a car. In 2007, three B.C. farm workers were killed, and 14 others injured when a ten-person van jammed with the 17 workers flipped and crashed. A coroner's inquest that followed made recommendations to regulate the safe of transportation of farm workers, including strict inspection standards by a third party.

"Farm workers in Quebec need a system that guarantees the highest level of safety when transporting workers," says Bolduc. "Farm workers are people, not produce."

UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private-sector union with over 250,000 members across Canada, including agriculture workers at a number of locations in Quebec.

Contact Information: UFCW Canada
Louis Bolduc
Executive Assistant to the National President
Agriculture Workers Alliance
Stan Raper
National Coordinator