Zai Jian for now
Trent Ernst, Editor
Tumbler Ridge has bid zai jain (goodbye) to a group of workers who arrived last fall to work on HD Mining’s bulk sample project.
The 16 workers, who arrived in Tumbler Ridge last fall, have had little to do over the last few months as delays, both legal and otherwise, have delayed the start of the bulk sample program.
The workers will be returning home to China, just in time for Chinese New Year. In addition, 200 Temporary Foreign Workers, originally expected sometime in December, will not be showing up in Tumbler Ridge any time soon, HD Mining announced.
“This was a difficult decision for us,” says Jody Shimkus, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for HD Mining. “We are very concerned about the cost and disruption this litigation brought by the unions has caused to the planning of the project. We need reasonable certainty before initiating work on our underground bulk sample,”
In a press release early last week, HD Mining says they remain committed to the project. They also say they will continue to work on workers’ housing and the environmental assessment process.
Penggui Yan, chairman of HD Mining, says the company needs assurance before moving forward. “We need to be able to rely on the Canadian legal system — and receive fair treatment from governments — when planning and developing projects,’’ said Yan. “In the absence of being able to find Canadians qualified and interested to do this work, we need to know we can rely on the two-year temporary foreign worker authorizations we received.’’
“Why is HD Mining afraid of scrutiny and due legal process in Canada if it has nothing to hide and followed the rules of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program?” asks International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 115 spokesman Brian Cochrane in a separate press release. “Its actions in pulling out and blaming unions that are only asking for a fair judicial review speak volumes about HD Mining.”
The IUOE and the Construction and Specialized Workers Union are contesting the federal government’s decision to grant HD Mining permits for 201 temporary foreign workers, but that review won’t happen until April.
In the meantime, the court case continues to have unforeseen consequences. Triland International’s James Rae says the company is postponing their planned $100-million project for HD Mining, which will, he says, affect more than 200 jobs held by Canadians.”
The work would involve phase two of the Monkman Commons Housing Project, phase one of the new dining facility, and surface construction work at the Murray River Mine site.
“We are disappointed that we will not be able to begin hiring the project management staff and two hundred plus construction workers required to build these projects for HD Mining,” said Rea, CEO/President of Triland International. “These projects are being delayed until further notice”.
HD Mining said it will “vigorously contest’’ the unions in court.
A review of the federal temporary foreign worker program is now underway.