HD Mining seeks talks with unions over temporary foreign workers – (CBC News – February 7, 2013)


Company wants to work with unions to expedite training of Canadian workers

A B.C. mining company says it wants to end its legal battle with labour unions and resume preliminary work opening up a coal mine in Tumbler Ridge with temporary workers from China.

In a letter to addressed to two B.C. labour unions involved in the dispute, HD Mining Chair Penggui Yan said the company is prepared to continue its legal defence of its decision to import 201 temporary workers from China under a federal program, rather than hire Canadians for the highly specialized job.

But Yan says the company would rather open negotiations with the union with the aim of getting work restarted at the mine while accelerating the training of Canadian workers.

The company proposes starting the work with the Chinese workers for the first two years to determine if the mine is viable, while it opens the negotiations with the unions to expedite the training of Canadian workers for the second phase of the project, if the mine proves viable.

“We would commit to consulting the unions before making any further applications to use temporary foreign workers. Our hope is this would maximize the opportunities for Canadian workers, and if any further temporary foreign worker applications are required that could be done with the full support of the unions.”

Yan notes that the legal work has put Canadian workers out of work and both the mayor of Tumbler Ridge and provincial representatives have called for both sides to find a solution to the dispute.

Unions reject proposal
Spokesmen for the unions hadn’t seen the letter until contacted by the Canadian Press, but they said the lawsuit will continue.

“The court case is not ending — the company has shown no good faith at any part of this proceeding, so it’s not about to go away,” Mark Olsen, of the Construction and Specialized Workers Union, said in an interview.

“If that’s an open invitation to meet with the company, that’s good news, but not at the expense of the legal proceeding.”

Olsen said the Federal Court case will raise important questions about the temporary foreign worker program that need to be answered regardless of whether the HD Mining project proceeds as planned.

Brian Cochrane, the business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers, dismissed the letter as little more than a public relations exercise. He questioned why his union learned of the letter from the media, not the company.

For the rest of this article, please go to the CBC News website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/02/07/hd-mining-tumbler-ridge-union.html