Haseena Manek

I’m a freelance journalist currently based in Ottawa, Canada. I like to cover labour, migration and human rights (among other things).

I can write, edit and produce audio (for radio + podcasts).

Follow me on Twitter, and/or contact me at haseenamanek (at) gmail (dot) com.


This is What We Do

Union Solidarity with Migrant Farm Workers On December 18, International Migrants Day, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) launched a petition calling for Canadian governments to protect the labour rights of migrant agricultural workers. “Without agricultural workers,” it reads, “much of Canada’s food supply would collapse.” UFCW Canada is one among several unions…

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Mistreated, marginalized, migrant

Charting the wins and losses of migrant agricultural workers in Ontario during seven months of COVID-19. “Any time a migrant worker says they’re sick, it’s like they’re not supposed to be sick.” These are the words of Maria,* a migrant agricultural worker from the Caribbean who is currently working at a farm in Windsor-Essex County. Maria…

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Invested in crisis

Mohamed Yusuf left his home in Ottawa’s Heron Gate community in October 2018, following about four months of organizing with the tenant coalition resisting an eviction order issued by their landlord, Timbercreek Asset Management Inc.  In the end, Yusuf and his neighbours – largely racialized, immigrant, and low-income families – were forced to leave their homes,…

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Shared Risk? OMERS indexing dispute fits pattern of attacks

The Ontario Municipal Employee Retirement System (OMERS) Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors will be voting on whether or not to scrap guaranteed indexing for members in favour of a proposal they call “Shared Risk,” on June 24. OMERS is a defined benefit plan for about half a million municipal workers in Ontario, including school board and…

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Abandoned and Disposable An: Agricultural Worker Speaks Out

“We feel discriminated [against], abandoned and disposable. For the company, [it’s] very easy to get rid of us, but at the end we don’t get any information, nothing,” says Tony, whose name has been changed to protect his identity. Tony is a migrant agricultural worker at Highline Mushrooms, in Leamington, Ontario. Like other workers across Canada…

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Union drive at WeedMD takes another twist

An effort to unionize workers at Ontario cannabis company WeedMD just got more complicated for the labour movement. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has been trying to organize at the medpot company’s Strathroy and Aylmer facilities. Kevin Shimmin, a national representative with UFCW, says workers contacted the union a few weeks ago over working…

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Essential but precarious: Toronto bike couriers fight for a union

Since Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced restaurants would stay open for takeout and delivery during the COVID19 pandemic, bicycle couriers have ben deemed “essential” workers. Already a dangerous job, bicycle couriers working for food delivery apps like Foodora, Uber Eats, Doordash and Skip the Dishes have no sick leave, no health insurance. Now they’re part of…

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Breaking bread & movement building

“I want to help people who look like me, I always tell women, get involved in the labour movement. We’ll make space for you.” So says labour activist Gogi Bhandal who, on Sunday March 1, came together in sisterhood and solidarity with over 500 women in Brampton, Ontario’s Starlight Grand Convention Centre for an annual brunch celebrating…

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The case for a human rights response to homeless encampments

Haseena Manek and Leilani Farha A pattern is emerging. For two years running, the month of January has triggered the forced eviction of homeless people living in encampments in Toronto.  This was the fate of those living in the Rosedale ravine a few weeks ago. They were evacuated ostensibly to preserve the ecology of the area,…

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Ontario teachers begin one-day strike against Ford’s cuts

Today, members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) walk off the job to protest ongoing attacks to the education system by Doug Ford’s government. Key issues for the teachers’ job action include preserving jobs, lowering class sizes and rejecting mandatory e-learning courses for students. The one-day province-wide walk-out will close secondary schools across the…

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Ontario’s education workers inch closer to strike position

Last week, negotiations between the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ (CUPE) bargaining agent the Ontario School Board Council of Union (OSBCU) and the province move to mediation as bargaining makes no progress for the 55,000 education workers CUPE represents across Ontario. RankandFile.ca spoke with OSBCU President Laura Walton about the role of the government and Council…

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Bargaining stalled for Ontario’s education workers

On July 31, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) filed for conciliation after 10 days of bargaining with the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) and the provincial government. RankandFile.ca spoke with Laura Walton, President of CUPE’s provincial bargaining agent, the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), to discuss bargaining so far and the issues…

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STAND UP, SPEAK OUT! An Interview with Shelina Merani on Comedy, Islam and Unions

Comedian, union activist and award-winning digital media strategist Shelina Merani uses stand-up to empower and educate by deconstructing stereotypes and building bridges. Merani has performed for unions and organizations in Canada and the U.S., including the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) and the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM). She has…

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JFAAP to launch report on the rights of temp workers

Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFAAP) will be launching their new report, Permanently Temporary, at an event in Toronto this evening. The community-led report details experiences of community members working with temporary employment agencies and the challenges they face as a result of their precarious working status. The report includes the anonymous accounts of current and…

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Labour council presidents across Canada #UniteAgainstRacism

Thirteen labour council presidents from across Canada have signed onto an open letter calling for the theme of Labour Day 2019 to be #UniteAgainstRacism. The letter was released by the Migrant Rights Network (MRN) as part of their ongoing anti-racism campaign. It calls for the labour movement to endorse the campaign by making #UniteAgainstRacism the theme…

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Human rights support centre workers fight back against provincial cuts

“Our thing is that, as front line work is being cut, overall it affects the people of Ontario being served. I mean, what are they to do? If they’re being discriminated [against] in a human rights matter, what do they do? It’s not just impacting our front line people, it’s impacting the people of Ontario. That’s…

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Workers at Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto are fighting for decent pay

“The best thing about this whole process has been an awakening among the workers,” said Local 518 President Elizabeth Wickwire in an email to Rank and File. “It is from small moments like this that I think the broader movement for workers’ rights is built. So, when people talk about fighting ‘Doug Ford’ or other larger…

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Join a Group Discussion on “the Erotic” as a Source of Empowerment

“When I speak of the erotic, I speak of it as an assertion of the life force of women,” writes American feminist writer, poet and activist Audre Lorde in her essay, “Uses of the Erotic: the Erotic as Power”. She speaks, she continues, “of that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are…

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Some Local Politicians Commit to Anti-Racism Pledge Ahead of Election Campaigns

The idea is to get politicians to prove that they are against hate speech, says Memet Uludag, the national chairperson for United Against Racism. At the weekend, his group invited politicians to take an election pledge against racism, challenging them to commit to rejecting racist and xenophobic language ahead of votes later in local and European…

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Purple Yam or Screwpine Cakes, Anyone?

Growing up, Rolando Estores lived with his family in an apartment above his grandparents’ busy bakery in the city of Malolos in the Philippines. By the time Estores turned 18 he wanted nothing to do with baking. But that eventually changed. Sat in the office at the back of the Golden Ribbon Bakeshoppe on Dorset Street…

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Some Want Toilets in Toiletless Public Libraries, Fast

Pace Borza often uses Terenure Library with her three young children, who are one, three, and five years old. The facilities are “amazing”, she says. Save for one thing. The lack of a basic convenience: toilets. “It’s just, it’s a nightmare,” she says. “If you go with a baby there’s no changing facility so you can’t…

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Injured migrant workers: no healthcare and a ticket home

“Nobody cares about you”: Ongoing case of migrant farmworker Ralston Maise shows how system treats migrant workers as disposable. During Injured Workers Week in Ontario, reports ran detailing the complete failure of the Workers’ Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to address the needs to injured workers. RankandFile.ca spoke to Ralston Maise about his experience with a…

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#UDHR70: Reflecting on the UN Declaration for Human Rights Defenders

The final episode of Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders. #UDHR70 Listen to this episode of #RightsOnTheLinePodcast to hear HRDs reflect firsthand on the importance of – and limitations of – UN Declarations on the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration on #HumanRights and…

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Victory at OMERS

On November 15, representatives from employers and unions with members in the OMERS pension plan came together to vote on changes proposed in June. The result was 50% plus one in favour of the changes, a thin majority that fell short of the two-third majority required to make changes to the OMERS pension plan. Read the…

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HRD World Summit 2018

A Bulletin for Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders. Rights on the Line brings you a brief bulletin from Paris today where a hundred and fifty human rights defenders from across the globe have gathered for the Human Rights Defenders World Summit.

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‘Assam is boiling’

Human rights defenders struggling to support millions left in immigration limbo by India’s National Register of Citizens Tanya Singh & Haseena Manek It has been two months since India threw nearly four million people into a desperate scramble to prove their citizenship or risk deportation. The government published a draft of the National Register of Citizens…

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CUPE fighting scare tactics at OMERS

In June, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) announced it would be voting on a number of changes that would hugely impact the 500,000 workers that contribute to it across Ontario in November. According to Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, at the latest OMERS sponsors meeting the plan presented…

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Interview with an HRD: Pâmella Passos

A Profile segment from Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders. Brazilian human rights defender Pâmella Passos. Pamella spent six weeks in Dublin as part of Front Line Defenders’ Rest and Respite program earlier this summer, just months after the death of her friend and…

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Striking back: Gender and unpaid internships

As Canadians wait for Trudeau to finally fulfill his campaign promise to crack down on unpaid internships with regulations to go with 2017 legislation, student activists in Quebec are addressing a gender disparity in paid student placements and internships. According to student activists Jeanne Bilodeau and Annabel Berthiaume, fields that traditionally have more women like social…

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National elections and human rights

Feature Episode 6 of Rights on the Line, a podcast I created and produced for Irish human rights NGO Front Line Defenders. On this episode we talk about elections and how they can impact human rights defenders. By looking at some of the federal elections that have taken place this year, we’ll be able to see…

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