Unions fail to get injuntion to block next group of miners
Trent Ernst, Editor
A federal court judge has decided not to grant an injunction in the HD Mining Case.
The two unions in the case, the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115 and the Construction and Specialized Workers Unions (Labourers) had asked the court to block any new temporary foreign workers from coming to Canada until the matter was settled, saying that the “Applicants and the public will suffer irreparable harm” once the workers are admitted to Canada.
However, in his decision, Justice Russell says “There is no clear and convincing, non-speculative evidence that the Applicants need an injunction to protect themselves against the consequences of those foreign workers authorized to come to Canada but who are not likely to arrive until after the Judicial Review Application is dealt with. In addition, it is still not clear to me that quashing the LMOs would not have consequences for the work permits.”
HD Mining argued that, as the work permits have already been issued, revoking the Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) would have no effect.
Judge Russell says that, while the union argues that these 60 new temporary foreign workers mean 60 fewer jobs for Canadians, he’s not convinced that there are 60 Canadians willing and able to do the job. “When the jobs were advertized, there were some 300 Canadian applicants, of which 97 showed up for interest, so there was certainly some interest…the evidence tells us there is a pool of Local 115 members who are out of work and so, potentially at least, could be interested in and qualified to do the jobs that the 60 foreign workers will be taking up on the project. What the Court doesn’t have at this stage, however, is any evidence from individual members or miners establishing that they are able, willing and qualified for the jobs in question.”
Judge Russell says that if individual members will suffer harm, the court needs to know the specifics of how many are interested, why they are qualified, and how the loss suffered is irreparable. “It is difficult to assume as a general proposition that all the members … will suffer irreparable harm. The situation is complex because the Court does not know, even roughly, how many jobs could be lost to qualified Canadians, or whether the individuals in question would be qualified for the jobs.”
While 60 new workers are due soon (probably before this paper hits the press), the remaining workers are not expected until May, which will be after the Leave and Judicial Review Application is dealt with. “If the LMOs are quashed the pool of potential Canadian workers can then come forward.”
Judge Russell says that “although the concerns of Local 115 members are entirely genuine and understandable, this does not mean that the Court has the clear and convincing, non-speculative evidence it needs to establish irreparable harm to the Applicants, their members, or a more general labour market.”
“This judgment is massive victory for HD Mining”, said HD Mining Chair Penggui Yan. “We have been waiting for a Court to say that we have done nothing wrong and this decision does exactly that. We hope it will cause the unions to seriously question why they are bringing these proceedings.”
“HD Mining has a very strong reputation with the community of Tumbler Ridge, and we are right now providing employment to many Canadians at the site, directly or through contractors,” said Mr. Yan. “We are very grateful that the Federal Court has said our project will not be suspended”. With this decision, HD Mining will continue its work extracting a core sample to investigate the extent of the coal seam as well as continue to pursue environmental certification for the Murray River Project. It will also allow HD Mining to continue investment in local goods, services and contractors. To date, HD Mining has invested over $50 million in the Tumbler Ridge area and surrounding communities.
“We feel we have been unfairly targeted by the unions and we must be able to rely on the government approval process”, said Mr. Yan. “There are hundreds of thousands foreign workers working under this program in Canada today and we do not understand why the unions would try and shut down our project. How would that provide jobs for anyone?”