Brian Cochrane is business manager at the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115; Manuel Alvernaz is business manager at the Construction And Specialized Workers’ Union, Local 1611.
Normally, when someone gets a lump of coal at Christmas, they are very unhappy about being recognized for their bad behaviour.
But not if they are a controversial coal mining company that was previously in deep trouble for hiring Chinese-speaking Temporary Foreign Workers for its coal mine near Tumbler Ridge in northeast B.C.
HD Mining created such a firestorm that the then-Conservative federal government of Stephen Harper had to make major changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker program that had allowed 338,000 non-Canadians get jobs in our country.
So HD Mining was very happy because their coal gift was the federal Liberal government giving a new environmental approval of proceeding with the Murray River mine to produce six million tonnes of steelmaking coal over 30 years.
And that approval raises a lot of concerns: about who will be mining that coal and under what conditions — because HD Mining’s current plan is still to employ up to 780 Temporary Foreign Workers — and to not fully replace them with Canadian miners for 10 years after startup.