Jesus Molina and Erika Zavala on their lunch break at Bylands Nursery. (Contributed)

Fundraiser launched for expatriated migrant workers fired from West Kelowna farm

The workers claim they were fired after breaching Bylands Nurseries ‘discriminatory’ policies

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.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Migrant Workers

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Okanagan company backs Orange Shirt Day contest

Vernon-based Tolko Industries sponsors art contest open to kids from kindergarten to Grade 12

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read