On August 31, 2012, on the 50th anniversary of its political independence from Britain, the Trinidad and Tobago government awarded it highest honor (posthumously) to Adrian Cola Rienzi. (Born Krishna Deonarine, he changed his name in tribute to Cola di Rienzo, a fourteenth century Italian workers activist). He spent his lifetime fighting exploitation of sugarcane workers and the racialized labour regime that was put in place through the colonial system of Indentureship. Through its Indentureship program, the British brought temporary workers from India to fulfill labour needs at lower wages and in worse living conditions than anyone already there (including former slaves) would agree to.
September 3, 2012 is Labour day in Canada. It’s being marked just as Canada’s immigration system makes the largest increases in the temporary foreign worker program in the ‘low skilled category’. As noted by the Asian Canadian Labour Alliance, “these workers employed at low wage jobs are tied to an employer and can not exercise basic rights because of a constant threat of deportation.” Following the historical structure of indenturing workers to an employer, the Federal government further penalizes these migrants by saying that they can work in Canada for four years, but can not come back to Canada for a minimum of four years after their initial contract.