A mine in northern China's Shanxi province. (File photo/Xinhua)
A labor organization in British Columbia has wrote an open letter to Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, to protest against the introduction of Chinese workers at four underground mining projects in the country's northeastern region.
"We believe this mass importation of labour is completely unnecessary and is simply a strategy to employ lower-paid workers who are compliant with the culture of coal mining in China," said Mark Olsen, the president of the Bargaining Council of the BC Building Trades Unions, which is made up of 15 unions and represents 35,00 craft and construction workers, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Olsen's remark came after the Vancouver-based Canadian Dehua International Mines and the Chinese businesses with which it partners introduced 201 Chinese miners through the country's temporary foreign worker program, which has seen 190,000 foreign nationals brought in to the country to perform jobs that Canadian companies cannot find local workers to do.
The Canadian company plans to introduce 1,600 to 2,000 Chinese miners to work at four underground mines in the next few years years. Its president Naishun Liu said it was forced to hire Chinese workers since most Canadian coal mines were open-pit operations for which local workers had less experience. Employing overseas workers is in fact more costly than hiring locally, contrary to what the union claims, Liu said. The firm has hired interpreters and is aiming for zero deaths in its mining operations, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The introduction of Chinese workers to Canadian mining projects has been condemned by local unions such as the building trade union and the United Steelworkers union. Steve Hun, the western director of the steel union, said China's mines have the worst safety records in the world and Canadian workers should be able to do the job better.
Mark Olsen also said that mining should not be included in the foreign workers program, according to Global Times, a subsidiary of the CCP mouthpiece People's Daily.
Dehua International Mines said the first batch of 400 Chinese workers will account for less than half of the total workforce. The firm has also set aside 480 positions for local workers, reported the Chinese media.