Resumes released to the public in Federal Court show a Vancouver mining company rejected qualified Canadians and hired Chinese temporary foreign workers at coal mine in northeastern B.C., according to two construction unions.
“What these resumes prove is that Canadian workers had jobs they could easily perform taken away from them by an unscrupulous company that wanted Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) all along and by an incredible lack of enforcement of the rules by the federal government,” said Mark Olsen, business manager for the Construction and Specialized Workers Union (CSWU) Local 1611.
“We can also see that when Premier Christy Clark went to China to announce this deal, her BC Liberal government’s ‘jobs plan’ didn’t include making sure that the jobs created would be filled by British Columbians.”
A court document filed by the CSWU and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IOUE) Local 115 on Jan. 31 states that HD Mining International rejected well qualified Canadian applicants and hired about 200 Chinese TFWs on the initial $300 million phase of the Murray River Project near Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
The unions’ submission reveals multiple examples of Canadian workers, with excellent qualifications and experience, who applied for work with HD Mining.
HD Mining International handed over about 300 resumes from Canadian citizens or permanent residents, who applied to work at the underground mine.
The CSWU and the IUOE gained access to the resumes while preparing an application for a judicial review to determine if Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) made errors issuing Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) to HD Mining, under the TFW program.
An LMO is an opinion provided by HRSDC to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which assesses the impact that hiring the TFWs may have on the Canadian labour market.
The unions claim the Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) issued to HD Mining by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) failed to ensure there were no Canadians to do the work, while the TFWs were offered wages far below prevailing rates.
HD Mining did not hire one Canadian applicant to work at the mine, claiming they were not qualified.
“HD Mining repeatedly told the federal government, told the media and told the public that there were no qualified workers for the coal mine development jobs in B.C. – the information in these resumes shows that to be blatantly untrue,” Cochrane said.
“There were workers applying for HD Mining jobs, who had as much as 30 years mining experience, who had mineral engineering degrees, who had managed major mines in Canada, who had every imaginable qualification to do the work – but they were all rejected so HD Mining could bring in Temporary Foreign Workers instead – it’s outrageous and it’s offensive,” said Brian Cochrane, business manager of the IUOE Local 115.
“It’s no wonder that HD Mining and the federal government have forced us to go to court repeatedly to get access to these damning documents – they knew that this information definitively proves they could have hired many highly qualified and experienced Canadian workers for this project,” Cochrane said.
Given this information, the unions are confident their application for a judicial review should be approved.
In addition, the unions would like the federal and B.C. governments to review the whole TFW program.
Final documents for a judicial review were submitted by the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers to the federal court in Vancouver on Jan. 21.
HD Mining announced on Jan. 29 that 16 TFWs on the project were being returned to China, due to a federal legal challenge by the unions.
About 60 more workers were scheduled to join this group in mid-December to undertake underground preparatory work for the bulk sample phase of the project.
This work involves the extraction of a 100,000 tonne coal sample to determine the viability of full mine development and confirm that the coal is marketable.
The unions claim that the timing of HD Mining’s decision was suspicious because it happened just days after they received the resumes of 300 Canadian workers who were rejected for jobs.