MLA has facts wrong on TFW

A look at Temporary Foreign Workers in Canadian mines.

Bill Bennett should spend more time researching his facts before defending the use of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) in BC mines.

In 2007 Dehua International Mining applied to the federal government to use TFW’s from China. But in March 2011 BC Jobs Minister Pat Bell boasts each of the four Chinese owned mines would create “300-400 jobs… plus another 5,000 to 6,000 spin off jobs.” No mention of guest workers.

In November 2011 , BC Premier Christy Clark claims $1.4 billion investment from China in BC mine development will “create over 6,700 jobs and other economic benefits” under the BC Jobs Plan – still no mention of TFW’s.

By April 2012, Prime Minister Harper changes TFW rules allowing companies to pay TFW’s 15 per cent less than prevailing Canadian wages.

In 2012 Dehua advertises jobs to Canadians but requiring Mandarin as a second language and wages reflecting Harper’s 15 per cent wage reduction strategy.

Dehua then announces it can’t find Canadian workers and will import 200 miners from China to their Murray River operation, with cheerleader Pat Bell saying Canadians lack skill in coal mining.

Under pressure from United Steelworkers, Bell backs off, suggesting Chinese workers will learn 100 English words related to safety and be able to train Canadians.

Shocking, considering the fact 50,000 miners were killed in Chinese mines between 2001-2011.

The latest is a Tyee investigation revealing employment agencies in China illegally charging miners C$12,500 to come work in Canada.

Meanwhile, PM Harper introduces the Canada-China Investment Treaty allowing foreign investors to sue Canadian taxpayers for interfering with their profiteering.

If Mr. Bennett cared about the citizens of BC or the coal miners in his own Kootenay East riding, he would understand the ramifications these policies will have on our communities and province.

Canadian workers will ultimately be forced to work for less as they compete against cheap foreign labour in their own country!

Alex Hanson

President, United Steelworkers Local 9346

Sparwood, B.C.