23rd October 2012

B.C. government investigating claims about Chinese recruiters looking for miners – by Jeremy Nuttall (Vancouver Sun – October 23, 2012)

posted in British Columbia Mining, Coal, Mining Conflict |

http://www.vancouversun.com/index.html

Canadian Press – VANCOUVER – The provincial government is investigating after the B.C. Federation of Labour complained an employment agency has been advertising for Canadian jobs, offering miners in China a chance to work here in exchange for exorbitant recruitment fees.

The investigation was launched because it is against the Employment Standards Act to charge a foreign worker a fee for information about employment or help them find a job in the province. Workers also cannot be forced to pay back any costs associated with recruitment to the company or agency.

“It is a serious allegation,” said Jobs Minister Pat Bell of a news release issued by Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour. “I hope he has substance to it. If he does, we will get to the bottom of it.”

But that’s not good enough for the B.C. Federation of Labour, which has been a vocal critic of the decision earlier this month to allow foreign, temporary workers into B.C. coal mines. “The only sensible thing to do is to suspend the permits and conduct a full investigation,” Sinclair said in the release.

“We have a duty to the unemployed Canadians who are looking for work and willing to train, and we have a duty to ensure that when foreign workers come to Canada, they do so with their rights protected, not trampled on.”

Sinclair alleged the jobs weren’t advertised fairly at going rates to workers in Canada and recruiters were asking applicants “to pay a modern-day head tax.”

Sinclair’s demands came after the B.C. online publication The Tyee said its reporter had posed as a Chinese miner, contacted two of three companies that placed ads on a Chinese website similar to Craigslist called Bai Xing, and was told the workers must pay the recruiters a $12,500 fee in exchange for the job in Canada.

“We are an employment agency and we need to charge you an agent fee,” wrote the recruiter in a conversation in Chinese via QQ, a Chinese version of MSN Messenger.

“Before you leave China, you must pay us 30,000 yuan. When you live in Canada, you must pay the rest — 50,000 yuan.”

According to China’s state-run media outlet Xinhua, a coal miner in China earns about 1,000 yuan a month, making the upfront agency fee two-and-a-half-year’s salary for workers who accept the offer.

The recruiter said the employer will deduct the remaining recruiter’s fee from workers’ paycheques, about C$400 a month.

HD Mining International has won temporary foreign-work permits for 201 Chinese miners for a six-to-eight-month stint as part of its efforts to develop its Murray River coal operation near Tumbler Ridge.

Bell said the miners will be working underground to extract bulk samples. If the mine is approved, it won’t be in operation until 2015.

“So you’ll see six to eight months of activity right now, and then it will be shut down and if the coal meets the standards that HD is looking for, then you will see the construction of the formal mine. Certainly our goal will be to make sure there are British Columbians (working there.)”

A second company, Vancouver-based Canadian Dehua International, founded and run by a former Chinese government official, also plans to apply for Chinese workers under Ottawa’s Temporary Foreign Worker program, Bell confirmed.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Vancouver Sun website: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/government+investigating+claims+about+Chinese+recruiters+looking+miners/7432277/story.html

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