Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
A second migrant worker at Greenhill Produce has written a letter raising concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak.
The employee said that the migrant workers would like the Jamaican government to mandate their liaison officers to check each farm once per month to ensure owners are adhering to rules and regulations. They would also like more education regarding migrant workers’ rights.
Chris Ramsaroop, organizer at Justice for Migrant workers, said the organization has verified the identity of the individual.
Justin Geertsma, general manager of Greenhill Produce, and Carlton Anderson, chief liaison officer, with Jamaica Liaison Services, could not be immediately reached for comment after The Voice received the letter late Monday afternoon.
However, in response to the first letter, Geertsema said they’re working closely with Chatham-Kent Public Health and are following their specific guidance explicitly.
Another allegation was made in the new letter, stating that on April 27, when the first COVID-19 cases had been reported at Greenhill, migrant workers were told to contact their liaison officers.
The worker said they were told by their officers that management had no facility to separate them so they have to work as is.
“Jamaica Liaison Officers also fear losing (their contract) with Greenhill Produce as Jamaicans have been working with this farm over 15 years now.”
“We talk to our employees regularly to let them know we are here to support them and to let them know we are taking all health guidelines seriously … (Public Health) are directing all our protocols and isolation activities on farm including mandatory active screening, physical distancing, accommodation specifics, requiring all employees to wear masks and gloves at all times, instituting strict sanitation processes to be executed twice a day, and erecting physical barriers where needed,” Geertsema stated.
The migrant worker wrote that the relationship between their country and Canada is a reciprocal one and would like the Canadian government to respect them as essential workers.
“With the world crisis, currently nurses, doctors, police, are considered as essential workers. What about migrant workers from Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, and Philippines?” the letter reads. “To leave our families annually to come here to work, especially in these times is a big sacrifice … Our work and sacrifices not only help families from our home countries but the host countries as well.”
READ MORE: MIGRANT WORKER RIGHTS OVERLOOKED: ADVOCATE