Safeguarding Dreams: How Labour Rights Empowered an International Student

Hamza Jawad

As an international student pursuing an MSc in Agriculture at Dalhousie University, I have witnessed firsthand the crucial role of the labour movement in modern society. This movement, dedicated to advocating for worker’s rights and promoting social and economic justice, has profoundly impacted my experience balancing full-time studies with various work roles in Canada.

My positions as a sitter guard, caring for a dementia patient at Miara Nursing Care in Truro, and as a Security Officer at Paladin Security Company at Colchester East Hants Health Centre, Truro, have given me unique insights into the labour movement’s impact. These roles demonstrate how labour protections ensure fair treatment and safe working conditions for casual workers like myself. These protections allow me to perform my duties with peace of mind, knowing that my rights are safeguarded. Additionally, my role as a Teaching Assistant at Dalhousie University’s Agriculture Campus has been particularly enlightening. Here, I experienced firsthand the benefits of strong labour advocacy. My rights were fully respected, and I earned a fair salary for my hard work. When my workload increased, my position was adjusted accordingly (TA 65 to TA 90). Importantly, I was made aware of my rights throughout this process, highlighting the crucial role of labour education and transparency.

In an era of rapid technological advancement, the labour movement’s push for retraining programs and lifelong learning initiatives is particularly relevant. As a student in the ever-evolving field of agriculture, I appreciate the emphasis on continuous skill development to keep workers competitive in changing job markets. This forward-thinking approach ensures that workers are not left behind as industries transform. 

The labour movement’s commitment to fighting discrimination and promoting diversity and inclusion has eased my transition to working in Canada, ensuring respect and equity for all workers. Additionally, its focus on environmental sustainability aligns with my agricultural studies, advocating for policies that balance productivity with environmental stewardship, protecting both jobs and the environment for sustainable practices.

The labour movement’s role in addressing international labour issues provides me with a sense of security, knowing my rights as a worker are protected regardless of my nationality. Their political engagement shapes legislation affecting workers’s rights and social programs, directly benefiting students and workers like myself. This international solidarity is crucial in an era where multinational corporations often operate beyond the reach of individual national laws.

As society grapples with issues like the gig economy and globalization, the labour movement continues to evolve and adapt. Its enduring commitment to worker’s rights and social justice remains a powerful force in shaping a more equitable society. CUPE 3912 and its affiliates, such as the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, exemplify this commitment, tirelessly improving the lives of workers and their families. As an international student and worker, I have experienced first-hand the benefits of their advocacy, allowing me to pursue my academic and professional goals with confidence and security. The labour movement’s multifaceted role in today’s society is indispensable to international students like me.

Hamza Jawad, an international student from Pakistan, is pursuing an MSc in Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. With a background in Veterinary Medicine, his research focuses on enhancing sheep parasite resilience. Hamza balances his studies with roles as a research assistant, teaching assistant, sitter guard, and security officer. These experiences have given him unique insights into the importance of the labour movement. Passionate about workers’s rights, social justice, and sustainable agriculture, Hamza has witnessed firsthand how labour protections have positively impacted his academic and professional journey in Canada.

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