Fruit pickers protest on Canyon Street for better living conditions in the orchards. (Photo credit Dion Viola)

Fruit pickers protest for better living accommodations

Approximately 25 fruit pickers participated in an organized demonstration this afternoon.

Fliers were posted on Canyon Street asking the Creston community to participate in the demonstration in solidarity with fruit pickers asking for fair wages, decent accommodations, and an end to threats, harassment and exploitation.

The Advance talked with a fruit picker who identified himself only as Gabriel, as the protestors gathered in the parking lot of the Valley Wash Inn in Creston.

“Today we are taking part in a movement. What we are looking for is improvements in working living conditions, basically, the same rights that are already written in the labour rights of B.C.” said Gabriel. “The farmers often offer limited or non-existent living accommodation. When farmers have seasonal workers as part of their staff they are supposed to provide accommodation. Hot showers are a rare thing and so are cold refrigerators or if there are refrigerators there is not enough for everyone. Restrooms are often a problem, restrooms often do not get cleaned.”

He said the pickers want the same rights and consideration as any other orchard worker. The pickers concerns are not limited to the Creston Valley.

“The living accommodation situation is pretty widespread,” said Gabriel. “It’s not all orchards, some of them are excellent. However, some of them are worse than the others and it’s not exclusive to the Creston Valley. It’s also in Sicamous and the Okanagan. Today it’s the pickers from Creston who are participating in the demonstration and want their voices heard.”

Calls to Creston Valley orchards have not yet been returned.

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