(COMPTON) Gazette published earlier this week a report revealing the deplorable conditions of life and work of foreign workers hired on a farm in Drummondville. Coaticook counting on the temporary workforce for many years, the Tribune went from a producer to interview workers about their experience.
The language barrier will be a great obstacle to communication, signs do not lie. The conversations and smiles exchanged between temporary employees Donabelle Farm, Compton, and their boss, Donald Pouliot, suggest a healthy relationship based on respect. The loyalty of some employees too.
Among the dozen Guatemalan workers hired on the farm for 8 years, some come back year after year. This is the case of Modesto, an employee of the first hour, which does not hesitate one second to enumerate the reasons that led him to return to the Compton farm each year.
“I adapted to work in the strawberry field, we have good conditions and a good relationship with the boss. We like it here, “he says, noting in passing that the hiring program yet allow him to decide to change closes when choosing the company where he will spend the summer.
His colleague Jose, meanwhile, is back for a seventh year in Donabelle, after an interval of one year in a production of Christmas trees. If he chose to return to the producer of strawberries, it’s because of the nature of work, but also the living conditions. It must be said that Donabelle employees are housed on site, eliminating their long hours of transport after the workday.
“Some make up two-hour drive to get to work. Here, when the day is over we’re two minutes from home. ”
The decision to house temporary workers near production sites proved both comfortable and convenient for the producer. “When it rains, we take a break, employees go home and come back to the fields afterwards. This would not be possible with the local workforce, “says Donald Pouliot, who considers essential foreign workers in pursuit of its activities.
A relationship of trust
“I spend a sales booth summer and I often hear from clients who ask the salesperson if employees are treated well. People are sensitive to that, “says Donald Pouliot. “I would never ask them to do something I would not do myself.”
The producer was convinced that the story told in the Press
there is a few days exception, especially because of the strict rules on foreign labor recruitment.
“Service Canada standards are very strict,” says the producer who receives the visit of inspectors every spring. “They check the square footage of the house depending on the number of workers, fire extinguishers, the water quality. If housing is not regulatory, it was not our workers. ”
Donabelle employees are housed in a house in two sections, with a large communal kitchen and covered balcony lockers are arranged to accommodate the work equipment. the scene was clearly laid out in terms of workers over the activities of the time.
Donald Pouliot said to have developed nice relationships with its employees, to the point where he had to find a balance between the friendly relationship and its role as employer. “When you start with foreign labor, we always together, we tend to think of them as family members. ”
At the time of the visit of La Tribune, the producer was about to bring the team to shop in Sherbrooke as every Friday, with a stop at a greatly appreciated grocer Galt Street which takes stock of maize flour and other products popular in Guatemalan cuisine. Before leaving, we asked if they had intended to return home Donabelle next year. Modesto became Team spokesman causing a laugh generalized: “If the boss wants us yet! ”
The arrival of new workforce in a region sometimes unexpected effects on the local economy and artisans. Talk to the family desk team Compton, whose shop is literally stormed by foreign agricultural workers as soon as the season begins intensive.
Luce Michaud involves at Comptoir family for fifteen years. She initially received an advance team of Guatemalan workers accompanied by their employer, but the best kept secret of Compton was quickly spread among them, now come back year after year and introduce newcomers.
“Employees of Donabelle are very loyal, but also guests from other nearby farms. They come to the counter as soon as they are installed and come back during the season with their bicycle. “There they source their work clothes, but also buy items to bring home to their families.
The majority of foreign workers in the region, speaking in Spanish, Luce Michaud notes that the first shopping sessions were a challenge for her in terms of communication. “It was a little tricky at first! I’m getting along, I made drawings. I started to learn the numbers in Spanish, to give them the price, “says one who has discovered an interest in learning the language.
“I followed a basic course and I still have my dictionary with me. When they come shopping was fun to learn words in our respective languages. They recognize me from year to year, people greet on the street. ”
Counter Compton family have been forced to temporarily close the time to move, right in the period when foreign workers settle in the region, this seasonal clientele looking forward reopened. Now you can visit the shop on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in the basement of the Church of Our Lady of the unit for a shopping strand or, why not, a little conversation in Spanish!