Profile: Peter Jany was born in southern Sudan in the 1960s when a murderous civil war in his country pitted the Black south Sudanese people who followed either Indigenous religions or Christianity against the ruling Arab and Muslim people of the country’s north. The war and grinding poverty in the South drove many to leave the country, including Peter’s family, who moved to Canada when he was 18 or 19 in 1983. He lived and worked and studied in various places before settling in Brooks in 2001. Employed by Lakeside Packers in various capacities, he and his fellow workers were often injured in a workplace where occupational health and safety was sacrificed to profits. When he slipped on a wet floor, he was forbidden by his superior to see a doctor since it would cost the superior a bonus. In 2004, about 400 still non-unionized workers walked off the job to demand a variety of occupational health and safety improvements including the right to see a doctor when injured, the right to sick leaves, and the right to go to a washroom outside scheduled breaks. They also demanded a system of seniority. Jany was their representative in speaking to a recalcitrant management and to public authorities. Ultimately he and his fellow workers recognized the need to call in a union to represent them. In their case, that was the UFCW.
Keywords: Immigration – Transition; Lakeside Packers; Meatpacking; Occupational health and safety; Refugee status; Refugees; Seniority; Sudan; UFCW
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