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South Asian farmworkers in British Columbia mounted a historic struggle for dignity and justice in the 1970s and 80s. Their mobilization, documented in the film “A Time To Rise,” was against exploitative and unsafe working conditions and against the farm owners who used these conditions to turn a profit. However, since that time, after the Canadian Farmworkers Union was effectively dismantled by government funding for less militant and less grassroots programs, this often invisible sector of workers is still searching for justice. This week three workers were killed and several injured in a van accident – an accident that could have been prevented with basic safety standards. Many have warned and expressed concern about the lack of safety for and abuse of farmworkers but the current government has ignored these concerned while actually cutting funding for safety inspectors. The tradegy not only demonstrates the criminal nature of these working conditions but the need recreate militant grassroots organizing efforts that empower the workers to fight for their own rights.


Poor people around the world are having to pay a big price so that their cities can host either the Olympic or Commonwealth Games. Currently, here in Vancouver, to allow for corporate developers to turn major profits in the lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games resident’s of the city’s poorest neighborhood and indigenous communities around BC are being displaced. The scenario was very similar during the 2002 Games in Utah and the 2004 Greece Olympics became well known for the hyper-exploitation of migrant workers leading to serious injuries and many deaths.

Now, leading up to the 2010 Commenwealth Games in Delhi we learn that “thousands of roadside snack sellers in Delhi could be forced to close their outdoor kitchens following a ruling by the country’s supreme court.” But this should not be a surprise. The games need to assure that there is a good business climate for the sponsors and because companies like McDonalds and Coca-Cola would be in direct competition with the 300,000 street vendors, the vendors must be shut down. This must be the forces of the “free market” at work.