Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BC killing jobs by bringing in foreign coal miners from China, will deadliest coal industry kill workers here too?

Chinese Temp Miners, Pawns of Racism
Chinese labourers working on Canadian Pacific Railway construction, 1884
Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 16, 2012
By Bill Tieleman
"China has the world's deadliest coal mine industry, with 1,973 miners killed in accidents last year." -- Associated Press, Sept. 25, 2012
Premier Christy Clark has decided to kill British Columbia jobs by importing up to 2,000 coal miners from China -- the world's deadliest coal producer.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already started signing their temporary foreign workers visas, but will they also be death warrants for some of those miners?
It's the wrong decision in every imaginable way.
And it feels like yet another outbreak of racism against Chinese workers that has plagued British Columbia since the gold rush in the 1860s brought the first wave of labourers from China.
BC's history of exploiting foreign workers
Racism? Yes. Up to 2,000 Chinese temporary foreign workers at as many as four mines with heavy Chinese investment will be paid less than Caucasian or other workers of different ethnic origins in the mining industry.
That's one big reason why they're coming here -- because underground machinery mechanics will be paid $25 to $32 an hour according to one coal company's job ads -- rather than Canadian mining industry rates of up to more than double that.
The Chinese workers will live in isolated camps at the underground mines in northeast B.C., just as in previous centuries.
Like their predecessors in the 1870s who came to work in B.C. coal mines, they will not have a vote in this country.
And like 6,500 Chinese workers brought to Canada to construct the CPR railroad through the mountains from 1880 to 1885 where at least 600 of them died on the job, they will also be doing some of the most dangerous work in the world.
In one decade, 50,174 Chinese miners killed
The U.S. Mine Rescue Association says 50,174 coal miners have died in China just between 2001 and 2011, based on official numbers.
The association even keeps a ghoulish China Mine Disaster Watch page online that shows 411 dead and 124 missing so far in 2012 and eight dead and seven missing just in October.
Then there's the sad likelihood of a racially-motivated backlash against these Chinese workers for taking away jobs from Canadians, as the use of other temporary foreign workers as cheap labour has already done.
Safe for whom?
Clark actually had the nerve to announce one of these metallurgical coal mine projects last November as part of her vaunted "B.C. Jobs Plan" without saying the jobs were mostly for temporary foreign workers, not British Columbians.
"British Columbia is a safe place for Chinese investment," gushed a Clark government news release.
It's safe for Chinese investment but definitely not safe for Chinese workers.
And it's wrong in every way.



Anonymous said...

Apparently, one of the 'reasons' the government and/or mine owners could not find any Canadians qualified to do the work was because one of the requirements in the application was that the applicant must speak Mandarin.

DPL said...

For years the BC Liberals have cut the apprenticeship trades program. And now are somehow surprised that there are no qualified trades folks, qualified to do a number of trades. So we end up with imported workers who may or may not have any knowledge of the job they are coming to do. Hire BC workers, not the BC Liberals

e.a.f. said...

From some of my reading I have concluded the problem is the companies are requiring those who apply for minning job to be able to use Mandarin. Not even Cantonese will do, just Mandarin. In case someone hasn't noticed this is canada & the official languages are french & english.

If there truly is a shortage of workers then it should be up to Immigration Canada to admit more workers with the required skills. They should not be coming here on temporary work visas. They should be coming as landed immigrants with full rights & their families with them. Having people here for long term jobs, this isn't an 8 wk harvest, on temp. work permits speaking only Mandarin will place the workers at a disadvantage. How will they know their rights under Canadian law? How & to whom will the complain if their rights are violated?

We have already had cases in Alberta where injured workers from China on temp. worker visas where shipped home to China without benefits they were entitled to under WCB.

I am appauled that harper did this, not suprised, but appauled.

there are plenty of underground miners around the world who would immigrate to canada. I am sure the underground miners in Chile, South Africa, eastern europe, Russia are just as qualified as those in China.

Having China set the "standards" for these mining jobs is a national disgrace. china has some of the highest death & injury rates in the mining world. Harper wants to bring this to Canada? Nice! I hope we can get rid of Harper before he gives all our jobs to foreign workers.

the wages offered are lower than usually paid in Canada for this work. Then Harper made it legal for temporary workers to be paid 15% less than Canadian workers. Sounds like Lord Dunsmuir is back in business except he is now named Stephen Harper. At one time chinese labour in the mines of Cumberland, B. C. were paid half of what a caucasian miner was paid. Guess we are ging back to those "good old days"

when miners were killed on the job the families of the miners were removed from their homes so the next mminer could move it. I guess by having just the miners come to Canada, without their families they will only have to ship a body home.

If Canada goes ahead with this we will become the social pariahs of the western world.

Anonymous said...

If one takes a look at the book by Jack London, the iron heel, 1905, a book which is appropriate to this day and time. The upper classes have always sought a means to keep living wages depressed. There was difficulty after WW2 with masses of veterans but now since that generation is passing on, I am afraid the upper classes and moneyed interests are up to the same old tricks. It is very sad for us BCrs'

Anonymous said...

This whole issue, is understandable, given the B.C. Liberal gutting of Education for Apprenticeship and Trades positions. Another photo and then shaft the workers of B.C. again.
A complete lack of forsight and planning, given that the forcast for mining and new mine startups, has been known for several years. The government has been so busy in the south, with "pressing matters" close to home that they have not seen the need, for a new generation of mine workers. Lets not even begin, to to discuss the Forestry boondoggle, in the same regard.

These people were supposed to be the "business oriented" party, far from it. A complete lack or grasp if you will, of the economic realities in the north. Some sort of comprehensive, strategy should have been in place 10 years ago, in order to make sure that we had the ability, to provide our own trained and qualified people,to be available and ready for these jobs.

This BC Liberal party or what's left of it, is a discrace to the people of the north, and the province in general.
The quick fix nonsense does not cut it anymore. What do we do, go shopping for cheap labour, just like cheap products, while we give away our resources and our future, at fire sale prices? Where does it end?

Anonymous said...

So why not end all this negativity and get the NDP to set policy on appreticeships? The NDP will be government by the time the mines are initially started in preparation.

The Steelworkers and Mining Unions can easily take their revenues to good use and start apprenticing programs, working with the companies.

The only thing that will change in the next 8 months in a change in government.

Let's get a change in attitude and put an end to easy to do critial commentary and references to how things were done 100 years ago, and get busy to generate safe good paying jobs in mining.

Or is that too difficult to handle, is being critical much easier?

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