CLC calls foul on Canadian miner shortage

LABOR officials want the Canadian government to pull work permits from a company that is importing Chinese miners to work at British Columbian mines, arguing no shortage of local workers exists.

Donna Schmidt

Canadian Labour Congress president Ken Georgetti issued a communication to Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley, whose department issued permits to Dehua International giving them the ability to import workers to northern BC under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

The plan was announced earlier this month for a mine complex after claims there were not enough Canadian miners to fill positions.

Georgetti said that, contrary to reports, there was no shortage of miners in the Canadian province, or in Canada overall, who could perform the work.

He went on to cite figures from Statistics Canada in June 2012 showing there were 20,000 unemployed individuals in the Canadian mining sectors and 9000 job vacancies.

“The data clearly shows unemployed miners within Canada are available," he said, pointing to “serious flaws” in the process the Canadian government and employers use for the TFWP program.

“Like many Canadians who witness frequent abuses of migrant workers, we are seriously concerned that the limited rules governing the TFWP are not being respected.”

Georgetti said that under the program’s regulations, employers were required to make reasonable efforts to train domestic workers before importing individuals, and said it was his organisation’s understanding that the training requirements for the mining complex were level with skills the Canadian workers already possessed.

The CLC confirmed its concerns about reports it had received that Chinese third-party labor brokers were advertising for Canadian coal mining positions at wages below what Dehua stated for pay.

“I urge you to rescind the work permits that have been issued to Dehua International mines and any other operations that have sought work permits and may have suffered similar lapses in integrity,” he said.

The Canadian Labour Congress represents 3.3 million workers across Canada.

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