Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights Commission Rejects Temporary Coal Mine Worker's Complaint

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Human Rights Commission Rejects Temporary Coal Mine Worker's Complaint

Article excerpt

Rights commission rejects worker complaint

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VANCOUVER - The Canadian Human Rights Commission has rejected a complaint filed by a Chinese miner against the United Steelworkers, over the union's vocal campaign against temporary foreign workers at a coal mine in northeastern British Columbia.

In a letter sent to the commission last month, Huizhi Li, one of 17 workers that had already arrived to work at HD Mining's Murray River mine, cited content from the Steelworkers' website that he said violated human rights laws.

Specifically, Li cited allegations by the Steelworkers and other labour groups that about 200 miners the company has hired from China are working for lower wages and benefits than the Canadian norm.

The union has also filed a safety complaint under the provincial Mines Act, alleging the miners in Murray River don't speak English well enough to understand their rights or to understand and comply with health and safety rules.

These allegations "are likely to create contempt for Chinese persons and in particular Chinese mining workers," Li said in the letter written on HD Mining letterhead.

A spokesperson for the commission said it is unable to comment on decisions to accept or dismiss complaints, but the union said lawyers were informed last week that the complaint did not meet the threshold for a case under the Human Rights Act.

"When we stated the campaign to bring awareness to guest workers across the county, we were very careful to explain to everybody that we thought guest workers were being exploited," said Stephen Hunt, the union's Western Canada director.

The whole program is wrong, he said.

"You should first seek Canadians and, secondly, if you can't then open up immigration so that when people come from other countries they come as full Canadians with full protections, which clearly these workers don't," Hunt said.

The International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union have asked the Federal Court for a judicial review of the federal government decision to grant HD Mining permits for 201 temporary foreign workers. …

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