Resumes released to the public show applicants met HRDC requirements, claim unions
Trent Ernst, Editor
The release of 300 resumes in the battle between the unions and HD Mining has triggered a flurry of responses, from both the company and from the unions.
The unions say that the company rejected highly experienced miners, calling it “outrageous and offensive.”
“HD Mining repeatedly told the federal government, told the media and told the public that there were no qualified workers for the coal mine development jobs in BC – the information in these resumes shows that to be blatantly untrue,” said Brian Cochrane, Business Manager of the IUOE Local 115, one of two Building Trades unions that brought the legal action. HD Mining obtained a federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program permit to bring up to 200 Chinese miners to BC because it claimed no qualified Canadians were available for the jobs, but the union claims the resumes show that there were plenty of experienced miners.
“There were workers applying for HD Mining jobs who had as much as 30 years mining experience, who had mineral engineering degrees, who had managed major mines in Canada, who had every imaginable qualification to do the work – but they were all rejected so HD Mining could bring in Temporary Foreign Workers instead – it’s outrageous and it’s offensive,” Cochrane said.
“It’s no wonder that HD Mining and the federal government have forced us to go to court repeatedly to get access to these damning documents – they knew that this information definitively proves they could have hired many highly qualified and experienced Canadian workers for this project,” Cochrane said. For their part, HD Mining says the information released so far is only the unions’ position. “The responses of the federal government and HD Mining will be filed by February 15,” HD said in an email response.
“It is important to understand the transition of skills from one type of mine to another – hard rock vs. coal and room and pillar vs. long-wall – there are no other long-wall coal mines in Canada. HD Mining will be using technology that will open up other opportunities and jobs for Canadians and is working on developing a training program with Northern Lights College. If these experienced miners are not allowed to do the work for bulk sampling then this will likely result in there being no work for Canadians on the many above ground jobs that will be available for this project with the many businesses providing goods and services.”
The union has filed a supplement in court, which states there were “a large number of qualified Canadian applicants for the position for which HD Mining was advertising…Most of these were designated as ‘non-related’, despite resumes that indicated that the qualifications required by HRSDC were met.” One of the miners, says the supplement, “had 30-plus years of wide-ranging and extensive experience in all aspects of underground mining.”
The officer reviewing the LMOs, says the document, “failed to review, or even to make inquires, about the resumes submitted by the Canadian applicants, despite the fact that he was required to determine whether HD Mining had ‘made, or has agreed to make, reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadian citizens or permanent residents,’”
Mayor Darwin Wren went on record last week, calling for an end to the conflict. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Wren says that the attention being brought to Tumbler Ridge around this case has not been positive. “What I’m suggesting is that HD Mining and the unions need to work together to find a solution to advance the project in a way that everyone can be proud of.”
It seems HD Mining took his suggestion to heart. A day after Wren’s statements, the company extended the proverbial olive branch to the unions, with an open letter to the unions. “While our company is fully prepared to continue defending this litigation, and while we believe the court will ultimately conclude our approvals were validly issued under the existing law and policy, we are prepared to engage in a dialogue with the unions if there is a mutual interest in doing so,” writes HD Mining Chairman Penggui Yan.
“The dispute has not created a single job, and it is causing considerable strain on our proposed Murray River Project,” writes Yan. In fact, the dispute has caused a number of jobs to be lost, including a potential 200 new construction jobs for Triland International. The letter lays out a series of four conditions that the company would need to have met, including being allowed to complete the two-year bulk sample work. “We cannot see any other practical way in which the workforce requirements for the bulk sample phase can be addressed in a manner consistent with our development and financing constraints,” writes Yan. “We believe this approach would provide meaningful commitments to ensure opportunities for Canadian workers are realized as quickly and effectively as possible.” The offer was quickly rejected by the unions.