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Fundraiser launched for expatriated migrant workers fired from West Kelowna farm

The workers claim they were fired after breaching Bylands Nurseries ‘discriminatory’ policies
Jesus Molina and Erika Zavala on their lunch break at Bylands Nursery. (Contributed)

A migrant rights advocacy group has launched a fundraiser for two temporary foreign workers who claim they were unjustly fired from a West Kelowna farm — losing a whole summer’s worth of income.

Jesús Molina, 35, and Erika Zavala, 36, came to work in B.C. through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, intending to send money back to their family and six children in the Mexican state of Baja California. They began work at West Kelowna’s Bylands Nurseries in late May.

Despite anticipating a full summer’s worth of work, Zavala and Molina were fired and expatriated just over a month after moving to West Kelowna. The termination came after they invited two representatives from Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA) – a migrant workers’ rights group – to their residence at the farm, breaching Bylands’ policies.

READ MORE: Migrant workers expatriated after breaching West Kelowna farm’s ‘discriminatory’ policies

Upon their arrival at Bylands, the two claim they were allowed one day to settle in and buy food at a local grocery store before they began work. After their return, they said their manager told them told they could not leave the farm again nor could they have any visitors, despite the two having been in the country for several months and having never been exposed to the virus. These restrictions weren’t in place for the Canadian workers at the farm, they said.

“[The manager] said that we were not allowed to go out to the store because he was afraid that Canadians would beat us or say awful things towards us because there was an outbreak at the Bylands farm,” Zavala told the West K News in Spanish.

Now, back home in Mexico, the couple is facing the devastating loss of income while still trying to provide for their family.

“They had been counting on their work in Canada until October, to support their children and their parents,” reads the GoFundMe page started by advocacy group Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture. “The paralysis of the Mexican economy due to COVID-19 has severely reduced their opportunities to work in their country of origin, where there is no government support.

“We ask for your solidarity to help them cover their lost income, donations in any amount are greatly appreciated.”

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