B.C. unions go to court over Chinese miners

Two major unions of the Canadian province of British Columbia have applied to have the Federal Court overturn a decision to allow about 200 foreign workers work at HD Mining Ltd.’s planned Murray River underground coal mine near Tumbler Ridge.

The application to the Federal Court of Canada comes amidst ongoing debate over the news that a group of firms, mostly Chinese-owned, will bring about 2,000 Chinese workers to four projects in B.C. to fill jobs they say Canadians aren't qualified to take.

Mark Olsen, business manager of the Labourers Union, objected to that assumption.

“There is a long history of mining in B.C. and there are many workers available with the skills required for this work,” he told Business in Vancouver.

Olsen added that at the mine’s pre-production stage, his union has members that can perform the job of collecting a bulk sample of coal.

Both the provincial and federal government are already investigating the use of foreign workers in the mentioned mines, as well as the recruitment tactics the companies are using.

Reports have pointed these firms have advertise positions that list proficiency in Mandarin as a requirement, an accusation the companies deny, despite existing proofs.

The Province reported last month that HD Mining placed an online want ad for six coal-mine managers that stipulated Mandarin, while the Canadian branches of China's Dehua mining corporation — which has partnered with HD — placed ads for 50 coal miners, 10 driller helpers and two engineers. These companies, said The Province, also stipulated Mandarin language skills.

According to the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training's website, a company can be fined up to $10,000 if found guilty of breaching the province's Employment Standards Act.

Foreign workers are the responsibility of the federal government.

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