Tuesday, October 30, 2012

BC could have trained coal miners here instead of importing Temporary Foreign Workers from China - look at US training

Coal Miners Could Have Been Easily Trained in BC Instead of Importing Temporary Foreign Workers From China
Longwall coal mining in Australia - one of many countries using the technique.
Longwall coal mining is hardly the rare, elite skill politicians want us to believe.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 30, 2012

By Bill Tieleman

"We are replacing people with 25 to 45 years of experience with people that have zero days of experience."

- Jimmy Brock, U.S. coal mining firm CONSOL Energy

If you don't think Chinese miners should be coming to British Columbia as temporary foreign workers in new coal mines, get ready to be really angry.
That's because the federal Conservative government will ratify a foreign investment agreement this week, ensuring even more Chinese takeovers of Canada’s natural resources -- and jobs.
And if you doubt that China-owned coal companies had no choice but to import their own workers to B.C. because no trained, experienced miners are available, prepare to get downright furious.
The reason is simple. Neither the coal companies nor the federal or B.C. governments wanted to train Canadian workers -- even though it’s nowhere near as hard as they claim.
"We require temporary foreign workers because we are introducing a highly mechanized form of longwall mining to the province. There's currently no active long-wall mining going on in Canada or B.C.," says Jody Shimkus, vice-president of HD Mining International, one of the companies involved in developing up to four coal mines.
And Shimkus would know. Less than one year ago she was assistant deputy minister for B.C.'s mines ministry itself.
While B.C. public service guidelines require senior government officials to wait one year before accepting employment with companies they had "substantial involvement" with, Shimkus said in a Friday interview that she did not deal with HD Mining in her ADM position.
Shimkus also said she was "unaware" of the government guidelines.
But is longwall mining that rare and complicated? No. Is China the only source of longwall miners? No. Just the cheapest.
US training legions of longwall miners
In fact, half of all U.S. coal mines use longwall methods, extracting 166 million tons in 2009 that way.
The largest U.S. underground coal producer -- Consul Energy -- constantly trains miners in longwall techniques at a new $12 million centre in southwest Pennsylvania because that's how it extracts 88 per cent of its coal.
West Virginia and Pennsylvania also have a Mining Technology and Training Center that provides new and inexperienced miner training courses with 240 hours of classroom and hands-on training.
And since just 2005, the Kentucky Coal Academy has trained 55,000 new and incumbent miners.
The reason for training so many miners is obvious. There is a great need and the job pays well.
"We hire 1,000 to 1,500 employees a year," says Jimmy Brock, CONSOL Energy's chief operating officer for coal. "We will find miners because a mining job is a good-paying job with great benefits."
“I call it a single-household job. One parent can work while the other one takes care of the family," Brock said.
Saying no to good local jobs
In fact, being a Pennsylvania coal miner pays very well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, making an average of $78,061 per year compared to an average private industry worker's $46,664.
But the Chinese coal miners coming to B.C. for "mine development" won't be making anywhere near that much money, with HD Mining advertising heavy duty equipment mechanic wages in the salary range of $25 to $32 an hour. At 2,000 hours work per year that would be $50,000 to $64,000 for a skilled trades job -- and that's not likely to be the lowest paid position if a mine opens.
And despite the international controversy importing Chinese workers has created, Canadian Kailuan Dehua Mines -- a "co-partnership company" with HD Mining -- still has ads posted on the Mining Association of B.C. website looking for miners which state that: "Mandarin Chinese is definitely an asset" in getting hired at one of its planned B.C. coal mines.
There's no excuse for importing temporary foreign workers given that it has been well known since 2007 that Chinese coal companies were planning on developing mines in northeast B.C.
And in 2008 a provincial task force recommended creating a new underground miner-training program to deal with an expected shortage.
But unlike in the U.S., absolutely nothing was done in B.C. to meet that need.
Instead, the governments of both B.C. and Canada and have abdicated their responsibilities.
Now the Conservative federal government is about to ratify the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with China that will make such travesties even more common.
And B.C. is reduced to calling for Chinese take out to deliver miners.


Ron S. said...

What would you expect from a government that harbours Hocksteins wet dream. That is foreign slave workers at the lowest possible wage. Oh Crusty, where is your families first policy now? In the toilet with the rest of them.

Anonymous said...

So rather bitch and complain like Ron does why don't the mining and machinery operating unions get off their rear ends and work with the mining companies to train new people?

Anonymous said...

Answer:Scabs are cheaper.

Anonymous said...

I can see from Anonymous Oct. 30 10:35's answer that he has experience in being part of scab labour.

Well good for him.

Still doesn't answer the question as to why the mining unions just don't take the first step and start working with the mining companies to begin a training program for those who want to do the work.

Anonymous said...

We knew way back in Campbell's time. China was sending their people to school to learn English. This was so they could work our BC mines. That just went along with, Campbell shipping our mills to China, with our raw logs.

We knew all of the roads, rail yard expansions, ports and power grids, were all for the benefit of China. China needed ways to, bring their goods into Canada. Expanded rail yards to store their goods. They need to get our resources, back to their country. Port of Prince Rupert was expanded, to be able to accept huge freighters.

Prince George had a huge expansion of their CN yard. The seven mines, going into Northern BC, need a way to move their products. If any of those mines are owned by China, they will bring their own to work those mines too.

The U.S. owns some of those mines. They too will bring their own workers. The U.S. won the contract, to tear down the old smelter in Kitimat. The few Canadians that did get jobs, were treated like dirt. They didn't even get safety gear. They had to breathe in Aluminum dust, while the Americans were given respirators. The American workers, were downright dirty and nasty to the Canadian people. The U.S. is building the new smelter, with their own workers, of course. People there, will most certainly be glad to see the last of those arrogant Americans.

CSIS also warned, of China's huge inroads into Canada. BC was specifically mentioned.

Harper is selling the tar pits out to Communist China, with all of the jobs too.

People just refuse to listen. If you said anything, you set yourself up to ridicule. People literally jump down your neck. All the dots were there, very easy to connect. Right from the sale of the CNR and the BCR. The sale of our jobs, mines and timber, all went to Red China.

I have said this more than once. I will say it again. If BC has a lick of sense, we will get the hell out of Harper's Canada. But no, lets stay in Harper's Canada, and be given to Communist China. Christy is giving the rest of BC, to Red China anyway.

Didn't Terry Lake say. The BC Liberals, are keeping their doors wide open for Communist China? I mean, Harper and Campbell worked very hard, to set BC up for Communist China? Did they not? China owns BC's resources and all of the jobs, that go with the resources.

e.a.f. said...

The mining unions can't work with the companies because the companies are never going to want to work with the unions. With the unions there will be demands for health & safety committees. There would be collective agreements which negotiate not only salary but how workers are treated, how promotions are worked out, how vacation is allocated, how stat. holidays are paid. You get the drift.

Now if you import a worker from China,on a temporary visa, none of the above matters. The worker could come here for a few years, knowing they would return to China with a lot more money than they would earn there. China has the highest injury & death rate in mining, in the world. I would expect that attitude to come along with the companies & miners. Not going to work well with Canadian workers, who even if not unionized, know what their rights are.

An injured temp. worker can be put on the next jet back to china. A Canadian or American would sue.

It isn't a union's job to set up education so government & companies can benefit. That is the job of companies & government. A union would be stupid to invest time & money in job training anyone unless the job site was going to be unionized & believe me, these China owned mines are never going to be unionized, that's why they have temporary Chinese workers coming.

Anonymous said...

e.a.f is full of it once again.

It is indeed the union's job to set training and apprecenticships. This is what the Operating Engineers Union does quite often. The IWA used to do the same thing working with the forest companies. Also many of the building trades unions do the same thing.

Don't be so anti-company. Be co-operative.

A workable solution is out there.

Whining isn't going to be it.

Anonymous said...

Also John Cavanagh (Dehua Mining) was ADM for Mines prior to Shimkus and Karino Brino (Mining Assn of BC) was ADM for Forests, Lands and Natural Resources in 2011. Perhaps the BC Government should send there exec staff lists to mining recruitment firms.
But of course I'm sure they never dealt with mining firms prior to their departures from government and they have no influence on the Jobs Minister (Pat Bell).