Okanagan fruit farmers are being warned of increasing “radical activist activity” in the valley.
The BC Fruit Grower Association released a newsletter to its membership last week, noting two incidents of threatening or interfering with grower operations have occurred in recent weeks. The group named Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture, or RAMA, is alleged to be behind the incidents.
The group of activists claim they strive to support “temporary” migrant farmworkers in the Okanagan Valley, though the BCFGA takes a more critical view of their activities.
“The radical activists may impersonate government officials, so please take your time record and look at the identification. If uncertain, ask the visitor to arrange for their supervisor to call you immediately before proceeding to admit the visitor to the farm,” said the BCFGA in a newsletter released earlier this month.
In the latest newsletter released May 28 the BCFGA said they are closely watching the situation, and ensuring Okanagan fruit farmers have the knowledge necessary to protect themselves.
“We don’t understand what motivates the radical activist groups,” said Glen Lucas, General Manager of BCFGA. “We are mainly just advising our members, but we are concerned about this group causing problems with their activities.”
Lucas emphasises that there are legitimate government authorities that have a right to visit and inspect records and facilities on farms and wants Okanagan fruit farmers to continue working closely with them.
“There are groups out there that are accountable and do have authority to monitor everything from pay to worker safety, to health. Including the contracts that all the grower are obligated to follow,” Lucas said.
Growers are being advised to co-operate with government authorities but to “always verify and record the visitors personal and business identification.”
The BCFGA is seeking to work with community-based groups to provide interpretation services as well as English classes for workers.
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