English and experience were job requirements for coal mine: affidavit
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3:31PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3:33PM EST
VANCOUVER -- The company caught up in a court fight over the hiring of temporary foreign workers from China for its northern B.C. coal mine says it made a comprehensive effort to recruit qualified Canadian workers.
Michael Xiao, the overseas department manager for Huiyong Holdings Group Ltd., the parent company of HD Mining International Ltd., said in an affidavit filed in Federal Court that HD posted the job over a period of three months.
Xiao said dozens of jobs were posted in a variety of locations: on the company website, with the National Job Bank operated by Service Canada, on the Infomine website, the Aboriginal Canada job portal, with the Mining Association of B.C., in the Vancouver Sun and Province, the Tumbler Ridge News and on the employment centre job board in Tumbler Ridge.
HD also bought advertisements in the Coffee Talk Express, a free weekly newsletter distributed to area cafes and restaurants.
"These advertisements were part of a comprehensive recruitment undertaking that was designed to identify potential qualified mine workers with the requisite experience," Xiao said in the affidavit filed last week.
Twenty different positions were advertised in the National Job Bank database from Jan. 27 to Feb. 25 -- double the 14 calendar days required under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program.
HD advertised for everything from mining engineers, to an office manager, industrial electricians and underground coal miners.
Advertised salaries ranged from $90,000 to $130,000 annually for a mine foreman/forewoman to $28 to $40 an hour for 65 coal miner positions, with dental and medical benefits, and group insurance.
The coal miner positions -- all advertised as permanent, full-time jobs -- required "three years to less than five years" of experience.
The Temporary Foreign Worker program requires a company to submit an account of how many applications they received from Canadian workers and explain why they were rejected. However that was not included in the documents submitted to the court.
"There is no information that any union member applied for the advertised jobs posted by HD Mining," the company said in a written submission to the court.
Temporary work permits have been granted for between 200 and 300 Chinese workers to conduct preliminary work at the Murray River mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C. The company has said it was not able to find workers in Canada with the necessary specialized skills for an underground coal mine.
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union Local 1611 have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision to grant the permits.
The company wants the lawsuit dismissed.
An estimated 17 temporary workers have already arrived, court has heard, and another 60 are slated to arrive in mid-December.
The unions have argued that the jobs were offered at $10 to $17 less than the prevailing rate at similar mines in the area, and without benefits. They have also submitted to the court that the ability to speak Mandarin may have been a requirement.
Xiao said that is not the case. Speaking Mandarin was only suggested as an "other language" in the National Job Bank posting, he said in the affidavit.
"None of the job postings that appeared in various publications and databases that are described above make any reference to Mandarin language ability as a requirement of the job nor was Mandarin a requirement for any of the posted positions."