BURNABY, BC, Feb. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) is
questioning the B.C. government's "thorough investigation" of alleged
employment standards violations in the recruitment of foreign workers
for B.C. mining jobs.
Following discussions with a Ministry of Labour official, the USW
believes the investigation may not have been as thorough as the
The USW notes government investigators did not contact key individuals
involved in exposing concerns over the recruitment of workers for B.C.
"Some vital information seems to have been overlooked," says
Steelworkers Western Canada Director Steve Hunt. "Under the
circumstances, it's not easy for us to 'just trust' officials who say
they conducted a 'thorough investigation.' "
Reports of recruitment practices appeared in the online journal The Tyee on Oct. 23, 2012. Journalist Jeremy Nuttall said he and others
contacted a company called Canada CIBS Group and asked about jobs at a
northeastern B.C. coal mine operated by HD Mining and other
Nuttall reported that he spoke to recruiters who wanted $12,500 per
person for jobs in the mine and that "the employer" would collect $400
a month from each worker. If true, USW is concerned that such practices
by the recruiters and/or "the employer" may have violated B.C.
employment standards law that prohibits seeking payments in return for
In response to a complaint by the B.C. Federation of Labour and concerns
raised by Steelworkers and other unions, Jobs Minister Pat Bell
promised to investigate.
A Vancouver Sun story of Oct. 23, 2012, reported that Bell said in response to concerns
raised by B.C. Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair: "It is a
serious allegation. I hope he has substance to it. If he does, we will
get to the bottom of it."
In a Jan. 28, 2013 letter to Steelworkers, B.C. deputy minister of
employment Dave Byng states: "in late November 2012 the Employment
Standards Branch completed its investigation into whether (temporary
foreign workers) were charged for employment at HD Mining. The Branch
found no evidence of contravention of the Employment Standards Act.
There was no evidence in this case of employees being charged fees in
British Columbia or by B.C.-based recruiters, nor was there evidence
that fees were being charged in respect of employees of HD Mining."
Employment Standards Branch director Chris Johnson told a Steelworkers
representative that her staff "did a thorough investigation."
However, Johnson admitted the branch did not contact Nuttall or
Sinclair, nor did it contact anyone in China. Johnson said her branch
"has no ability to investigate in China" and her staff did not follow
up those leads even though the workers were coming from China.
So what information did government consider when it concluded there was
'no evidence' of workers being charged fees by 'B.C.-based recruiters?'
The Steelworkers point out that the recruiting firm contacted by Jeremy
Nuttall and others has a Vancouver office, and its website states
"Canada CIBS group is in the Canadian B.C." The union questions how and
why the B.C. government may have concluded that the company reportedly
linked to recruitment fees is not "B.C.-based."
"We'll be pressing the government to come clean," says Steve Hunt.
"British Columbians need to know there was indeed a thorough
investigation. The B.C. government needs to take seriously its
obligation to enforce minimum standards laws put in place to protect
workers from paying recruitment fees. We will ensure that the
government is held to account."
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Steve Hunt, USW Western Canada Director, 604-816-2554
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174