Temporary Foreign Workers Program and Seasonal Agricultural Program

Food for Thought:

Briefly describe the Temporary Foreign Workers program and provide an overview of the recent controversy surrounding this practice (this should take up no more than 1/3 of your post). Then draw on Marxist legal theory to explain the program and the controversy.

The temporary foreign workers program (TFWP) allows Canadian employers to employ foreign workers when having difficulty or simply cannot find people for work. A branch of this program is the seasonal agricultural workers program (SAWP). But this program focuses around agricultural means, yet both programs (TFWP and SWAP) have similar problems. In both cases, the workers who are brought from different countries for a temporary basis, face alienation and exploitation.

Karl Marx’s work can be applied to these programs. Marx differentiates between the upper class and working class. Within these programs the working class would be the foreign workers who come from different countries for work. While the upper class, which can also be seen as the capitalists, are the employers themselves. The employers employ these foreign workers and these workers are “cheaper” then Canadian workers. Therefore the Capitalists are making as much as possible but cutting down on costs as much as possible. These workers exchange their labor for a wage, they do not get a say in what they are creating and what not, hence, an alienation from the production of the product.

Another type of alienation is the alienation from the product itself. These foreign workers may produce the product but at the end of the day they are not able to afford the item that they have produced. There is also the alienation from other workers. Workers compete with one another, for if a worker is not working hard enough in accordance to the employer, they can be sent back to their country. That level of competition brings in the aspect of alienation from other workers. Not only that, but there is also the alienation from a social life. These foreign workers do not have a social life for they are working most of the time. For the days off for example, one may think they have family in Canada that the worker may be able to visit. But the government places these workers where there is a need of workers. So a worker may have family in Vancouver but placed in Alberta, therefore not being able to see their family and only working.

These workers face many injustices yet there are very minimum cases where the employers face punishment. There are many workers who are looking for work, and it is very easy for a employer to send a worker back and hire another worker. Therefore workers may not speak out, for they are in fear of being sent back home and not having work because they know they can be easily replaced.

Just as one of Marx’s ideas, with laws and rules regarding these programs reflect the ideas of the ruling class (capitalists). That can be portrayed through how easy it is for the employers to send the workers back and how there have been such few cases where the employers face actual punishment for the injustices they have committed. The workers have no say what so ever, simply exchange their labor for a minimum wage and are sent back to the country they came from. While the capitalists make all the profits.




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One response to “Temporary Foreign Workers Program and Seasonal Agricultural Program

  1. Your discussion of alienation is effective.

    I was hoping for a more specific discussion of the recent Temporary Foreign Workers controversy, which heated up over the summer of 2014. Some companies were found to be hiring foreign workers instead of Canadian workers. Others were found to be placing foreign workers in unsafe conditions and / or withholding wages. From a labour perspective – of relevance to a Marxist legal analysis – the precarious nature of positions obtained through the TFW process effectively prevented workers from organizing, engaging in collective bargaining, or advocating for their rights. You address this point in your post.

    Marx locates law – including the law governing the TFW program – within the ideological superstructure. How does the TFW system function as ideology?