Latin American Workers Win Five-Year Battle for Fair Wages for Canada Line Work

Article excerpt

Fair pay settlement for Canada Line workers

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VANCOUVER - About 40 temporary foreign workers from Latin America have finally been paid the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars they were each owed for building the Canada Line rapid transit link between Vancouver and Richmond, B.C.

The payout brings to an end a five-year-long battle between SELI Canada, SNC Lavalin and the workers, whom a BC Human Rights Tribunal ruled in 2008 were discriminated against in wages, accommodation, meals and expenses when compared to their European colleagues.

Details of the settlement and video of the workers receiving their cheques in Costa Rica will be made public Wednesday.

Lee Loftus, president of the BC Building Trades Council, said the settlement sends an important message to employers.

"If they think that there is going to be benefits to bring in workers from outside of Canada, exploit them at every level, whether it's through wages, or through economizations or with the threat of deportation, that the human rights tribunals and the courts in Canada will say, 'foul,' and make the awards as full benefits."

The workers were brought in on temporary visas and were employed with others in boring a tunnel that forms a major part of the transit line linking Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., and Vancouver.

But the Labourers' Union, also known as the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union, launched a complaint with the tribunal and named the Canada Line builders, SELI Canada, SNCP-SELI Joint Venture and SNC Lavalin, as respondents. …