DATE: October 23, 2012
Fort St. John, BC—As a participant in BC’s mining sector, CLAC is deeply concerned about the BC government’s recent statements about the lack of skilled mining workers and the need for Chinese workers to mine coal in the northeast part of the province.
In response, CLAC calls on the BC government to work with labour unions to find safe and constructive solutions to the province’s skilled labour needs. Every effort needs to be made to see that local hires, including under-represented groups such as youth, First Nations peoples, and women have every opportunity to access these new jobs. BC workers need this kind of employment opportunity, and they should be at the head of the line for such positions.
CLAC has consistently called on governments and employers to implement hiring policies that put Canadian workers first. Creative and constructive solutions to skilled labour shortages do exist, and these solutions are also simply good economic policy.
For example, CLAC supports better relocation incentives and fly-in/fly-out policies that allow available skilled workers from one province to easily relocate or take available work in BC without unnecessary barriers or red tape. Such policies would give BC employers better access to any available Canadian workers who have the required mining experience and expertise.
Far more also needs to be done in the training of apprentices. If BC does not have sufficient skilled labour to meet the needs of its mining sector, the BC government should work in partnership with the province’s educational institutions and unions to create the required apprenticeship programs to meet these needs.
In short, every possible avenue to facilitate the hiring of BC and Canadian workers first should be pursued.
Worker safety is paramount. Since some of the companies involved in these new BC mining ventures do not adhere to Canadian standards of health and safety in their home country, CLAC is concerned about a possible lack of worker safety for workers employed by foreign companies. While some Canadian workers may learn from the mining expertise brought by skilled Chinese workers, some Chinese employers have much to learn about Canadian health and safety standards and how they are applied in the underground mining sector.
Given the remoteness of the new mines, regular safety inspections will be costly and time-consuming. CLAC calls on the BC government to adequately resource the inspection process so that all workers will have a safe workplace that meets or exceeds the current safety regulations.
As an independent Canadian union, CLAC is committed to working in partnership with all levels of government to find safe and constructive ways of addressing Canada’s need for skilled workers, both now and in the future.
Call one of our knowledgeable regional reps today to start the process of transforming your workplace into one marked by progressive labour relations.