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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney concerned B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision will hurt Temporary Foreign Worker program

In a statement today, Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, responds to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision on foreign workers:

“I am very concerned by the recent decision of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal regarding wages for temporary foreign workers, particularly in light of the fact that these workers were being compensated at the same level as Canadian workers, and had voted to decertify the union that filed the complaint.

While this is a matter between the employer and its employees, we are monitoring the situation closely. Especially during a period of economic uncertainty, Canada’s economy and the success of many Canadian businesses depends, in part, on the contribution of foreign workers. We are committed to ensuring the Temporary Foreign Worker program continues to benefit workers while helping employers meet short-term labour needs when no suitable Canadian workers are available.”

Kenney is responding to a December 3, 2008 ruling by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that workers from Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica were discriminated against by two companies involved in building a new Skytrain project between downtown Vancouver and the airport.

The Tribunal alleges that SELI Canada and SNC Lavalin discriminated against Latin American workers in terms of salaries and benefits in comparison to European workers who were also brought in to build the Skytrain expansion project.

Charles Gordon, a lawyer representing the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union, thinks he’ll have to go to court to collect what he estimates to be $2.4 million in wages and benefits affecting 38 workers involved in the complaint.

The Tribunal has also ordered the companies to pay $10,000 to each worker for “injury to their dignity.”

If there has been any injury to dignity the victims are SELI Canada and SNC Lavalin management, who have been punished and demonized for providing opportunity to foreign workers – and the foreign workers who have been forced into a union they have since voted to decertify.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on December 14, 2008 in Canadian Conservative Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Why do they insist on insulting our intelligence by calling them "temporary" foreign workers? They're never going home, even if they no longer have jobs.

Posted by: dp | 2008-12-14 11:32:00 AM


Wonder exactly WHO is losing their so called Human Rights here?

We are a democracy and we are governed by the rule of law. Why are we tolerating these jackboot Human Rights cabals, loaded with F grade lawyers, to exist anywhere in this country?

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-12-14 11:52:48 AM


If this isn't really about workplace discrimination perhaps what we have is "too many" temporary workers for them all to get jobs.
While this might seem like a problem at first, it isn't really...
I've been watching some of the governments around the world and they have been using a method to fight inflation that we might apply to the immigration problem. (if there is one)

Seems they have an inflated currency which is to say "too much" money in circulation.
And they're quite sure it can be solved by creating even more money, right?

So here's the solution...
We bring in "more" immigrants that also can't get jobs....

Actually, I feel badly for the workers in Vancouver who can't get jobs. But really, if there was enough demand for workers...they'd be working wouldn't they?
But instead they get "sue" someone. A lot of generationally established Canadians are out of work right now. Who do they sue?
And I'll bet in small cafe's and in the streets of third world countries everywhere, that this is getting to be well known, and immigratring to Canada looks pretty damned good to them. And who can blame them?

The only losers here are the already overburdened taxpayer's.

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-14 1:35:27 PM


"...particularly in light of the fact that these workers were being compensated at the same level as Canadian workers."

Is Kenney smoking crack? The temporary foreign workers were getting paid LESS than Canadian workers, that was the basic issue. Oh, and they were fired for speaking up about it, too...

The temporary foreign worker program ought to be axed, especially now that we're in a "recession."

Posted by: Tony | 2008-12-14 1:38:35 PM


We need temporary foreign workers because of all the Canadians on temporary E.I. and temporary social assistance.

In PEI, where there are lots of unemployed Canadians, we have to import fish-plant workers from Russia....

Posted by: Richard Ball | 2008-12-14 1:59:20 PM


In PEI, where there are lots of unemployed Canadians, we have to import fish-plant workers from Russia....

Posted by: Richard Ball | 14-Dec-08 1:59:20 PM


The problem there is still government policy...or as I like to refer to it, the "Bird Feeder Policy"

Posted by: JC | 2008-12-14 2:06:12 PM


Just looking at the decision now, it appears the company was caught for retaliating against these guys for launching their complaint. Not behavior to be proud of.

I doubt the Tories will get their precious majority by union bashing, either.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-12-14 2:07:18 PM


Richard Ball has it right. If all the welfare for able-bodied Canadians and landed immigrants ceased there would be enough Canadian workers to fill the need. As it is I cannot say I blame them. Why work when you can get paid not to work at everyone else's expense.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-12-14 2:09:15 PM


What was the nature of the retaliation, bigcitylib?

Did the company hire goons to break legs?

As for Tory union bashing, I'm surprised and impressed by their hostility toward unions.

Suspending the right to strike. Kenney's reaction to the by the BC Human Rights Tribunal here. Rob Anders referring to union leaders as "goons" in this issue of Fast Forward in Calgary.

They are picking one hell of a battle.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-14 3:58:40 PM


Matthew:

"The crux of the Union’s retaliation complaint is a petition which the Employer presented to members of the Complainant Group for signature. It was written in Spanish. Translated, it says: “I no longer wish the Union to represent me before the Human Rights Tribunal.” (para. 21)"

From the decision:

http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/decisions/2008/pdf/dec/436_CSWU_Local_1611_v_SELI_Canada_and_others_(No_8)_2008_BCHRT_436.pdf

Is there a link somewhere to the Kenney statement?

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2008-12-14 5:00:13 PM


Here's the link, BCL:

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-eng.do?m=/index&nid=427779

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-12-14 5:07:57 PM


dp: "Why do they insist on insulting our intelligence by calling them "temporary" foreign workers? They're never going home, even if they no longer have jobs."

Do you have any experience in HR? in hiring Temporary Foreign Workers? or have a clue what a work permit looks like, and how it limits the worker? or the level of paperwork required (by the hiring company) to get a permit for someone? The investment in time & money?

Apparently not. It shows.

Posted by: Candace | 2008-12-15 12:10:25 AM


It would serve Jason Kenny well if the Minister read and understood the ruling of the BC Human Rights Tribunal. In particular,there is a misperception that the foreign workers were paid the same as Canadian workers. They were not.

This is what the Tribunal found:

(at para 471) "the [employer] squarely put in issue their efforts to determine the Canadian market rate, and the extent of those efforts goes to whether Seli's international compensation practices constitute a BFOR to justify the prima facie discriminatory compensation paid to the Latin American workers on the Canada Line."

(at para 474) "That the Canadian market rates the [employer] arrived at were likely not accurate is reflected in the fact that they did not receive a single resume in response to the newspaper ads they placed in December 2005 and February 2006. It is also noteworthy that they were required to pay [a Canadian electician] $28 an hour as a maintenance electrician, work that [the employer] acknowledged was less complicated than the work of a TBM electrician which they had advertised at $18-21 an hour."

The Latin American TBM electrician was paid $54,257 while the European TBM electrician was paid $95,660. By way of comparison, TBM electicians working on the North Vancouver Twin Tunnels project made $35.09 an hour, over $90,000 a year.

The Minister might disagree with the Human Rights decision but his opinion should at least be based on the facts.

Posted by: KevinBlakely | 2008-12-15 10:38:47 AM



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