A group of labour unions has written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Christy Clark to raise concerns about a pending influx of temporary foreign workers to the B.C. mining sector. The unions say Canadian workers could do the jobs for which foreign workers are being hired.
“We believe this mass importation of labour is completely unnecessary and is simply a strategy to employ lower-paid workers who are compliant with the culture of coal mining in China,” said the October 15 letter from the Bargaining Council of B.C. Building Trades Unions, which represents 15 unions whose members include plumbers, sheet metal workers and others involved in the construction industry.
“The coal mining in that country is patently unsafe and the industry there shows little regard for the life, health and well being of the workers in that country.”
The letter comes as HD Mining International Ltd. – the Vancouver-based mining company that is developing the Murray River coal project near Tumbler Ridge – has obtained permission to bring 200 workers to B.C. under the federally administered Temporary Foreign Worker Program. [...]
HD’s partner in Murray River is Canadian Dehua International, a Chinese-backed company that is working on three other proposed coal projects in the province that could also involve hundreds of foreign workers.
The prospect that mining companies might want to hire foreign workers has been known since at least 2007, when Canadian Dehua filed a project description for its proposed Gething project that said as many as 400 foreign workers would likely be needed to build the mine.
Ms. Clark did not mention foreign workers in an official announcement last November, when she trumpeted Chinese investments in B.C.’s mining sector – including projects involving Canadian Dehua – that would “eventually create over 6,700 jobs.”