What Does QPIRG Do for the Movement?

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QPIRG Logo, Retrieved March 6, 2014 from QPIRG McGill, 3547 University St., 3rd Floor, Montreal: Quebc.

 

The anti-colonialist actions of QPIRG are largely expressed in disseminating information and conducting educational workshops on the issues as well as taking part in demonstrations. Immigrant labour is one issue that QPIRG focuses on. They relate immigrant labour issues to anti-colonialism in many ways. They give examples in their workshops of immigrants being continually discriminated against or exploited as workers.[1] They also discuss in their workshops how “slavery existed in Canada early on and in fact, some say that the underground railway first developed to help slaves in Canada escape to the Northeastern USA.”[2]

 

Some contemporary examples of how they relate immigrant labour issues to anti-colonialism are[3]:

 

  • People who want to come to Canada have to pay high fees to process their papers.

  • These people also often have expensive education in the home country but their credentials are not recognized here.

  • They also pay high taxes, but during the length of the landing process don’t have access to education or health services. Many of whom are undocumented/non-status workers.

 

An example of a typical workshop discussion in point form:

 

What problems do immigrant workers face?[4]

 

  • Low pay

  • Overtime (often unpaid)

  • Abuse

  • Sexism (pregnancy issues, harassment, having to be docile and submissive)

  • Tasks outside job description

  • Bureaucracy in making complaints

  • Different set of rights

  • Deskilling

  • Housing problems through exploitation of agencies

 

Why do they encounter these problems?[5]

 

  • Temporary status (used to get residency immediately)

  • Motivations of cheap labour

  • Racism and global economy

 

QPIRG has also taken a stand against the Labour Standards Act and demand the following[6]:

 

  • The reduction of the minimum service requirement from 3 years to 1 year, for protection against unjust dismissal.

  • That domestic workers and live-in caregivers be protected by the Labour Standards Act by including them in the general provisions of the Act.

  • An increase of the minimum wage to a rate that assures a living wage with an automatic indexation to the cost of living.

  • That employers be required to post a multilingual summary of the Labour Standards Act in all workplaces, in highly visible locations, as well as the contact information of the Labour Standards Commission in case of a complaint.

  • The provision for free legal aid to all plaintiffs in cases before the Labour Standards Commission and this in all stages fp the process, including mediation.

  • That the Labour Standards Commission undertake on a regular basis public service announcement campaigns in various media and in multiple languages.

 

QPIRGs anti-colonialist stance relates to their anti-racist stance, in which they are quit active. Some of their major initiatives against racism have included[7]:

 

  • Co-sponsoring an anti-racist youth conference in Montreal.

  • Co-sponsoring a conference on indigenous solidarity in Montreal.

  • They held a panel discussion on racial profiling and the war on terrorism in the wake of September 11.

  • Organizing an alternative, politically-oriented orientation program for incoming students, which included a Labour Day which saw students visit the Immigrant Workers’ Center, do house calls about Quebec labour Standards in an immigrant working-class community, and attend a panel on migrant labour (live-in caregivers, sex workers, and migrant farm workers).

 


[1] Picot, Garnett and Andrew Heisz. The Performance of the 1990s Canadian Labour Market, Ottawa, ON: Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch (2000), 132.

[2] Student-Worker Solidarity’s Workshop on Immigrant Labour, November 1999, File: 2007-0007.01.33, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 1.

[3] Activities Report of 2001, 2001, File: 2007-0007.01.29, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 3.

[4] Activities Report of 2001, 2001, File: 2007-0007.01.29, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 5.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Letter of support to amend the Labour Standards Act, unknown date, File: Activities Report of 2001, 2001, File: 2007-0007.01.29, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 1.

[7] Initiatives Against Racism: Application Form, unknown date, File: Activities Report of 2001, 2001, File: 2007-0007.01.29, QPIRG Fonds, McGill University Archives, 2.

 

QPIRG and the Anti-Colonialism Movement
What Does QPIRG Do for the Movement?