Work Place Justice for Immigrants
Securing employment during a global financial crisis is a challenge for anyone, but finding equitable employment as a new immigrant to Montreal adds extra challenges to a job hunt in today’s marketplace. Montreal’s Immigrant Workers’ Centre in Côte-des-Neiges has emerged as a focal point for grassroots organizing around working conditions for immigrant communities in Montreal, and it is a focus in the recently published book Fight Back. Scribed by professors Aziz Choudry, Jill Hanley, Steve Jordan, Eric Shragge and Martha Stiegman, Fight Back details the working conditions experienced by new immigrants in multiple sectors, including the restaurant industry, live-in domestic work and agricultural industry around Montreal. “Fight Back is about bringing the voices of immigrant workers forward,” says co-author Martha Stiegman. “It’s important to tell the story of migrant farm workers in Quebec, or live-in caregivers in Montreal, these are stories that are so often forgotten in the mainstream media.” The book interviews immigrant workers about their jobs and their experiences. Although it serves an academic audience, it also enlightens those currently looking for work as a new immigrant in the Montreal job market, and their rights as workers. Fight Back presents a unique marriage between engaged academics and community organizers at the Immigrant Workers’ Centre, telling the human tales behind labour struggles. “[We] hope that Fight Back can be useful both for those trying to learn about the working experiences [of] new immigrants and also within immigrant communities actively organizing for just labour conditions and employment opportunities,” continues Stiegman. The testimonials collected in Fight Back aren’t found in any other contemporary publication, and as such offer a unique portrait of the experiences of those working in the immigrant labour sectors in Quebec. Fight Back also deals with non-status labour, detailing stories on the working conditions experienced by thousands living without immigration status in Quebec, and including local jobs like driving, kitchen help and factory work. Fight Back details both the policy side and human stories that complete an important snapshot on often untold stories faced by immigrant workers in our city. For more info, see the book’s website: www.fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/367. - Stefan Christoff, The Hour, August 27, 2009.