Our Federal Court has dismissed a court challenge by two unions
against HD Mining. The unions claimed that the company hired
more than 200 temporary Chinese workers for its coal mine in
Tumbler Ridge in northeastern BC, while deliberately ignoring or
passing over many qualified and willing Canadian applicants.
The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115, and
the Construction and Specialized Workers Union claimed that HD
Mining obtained labour market opinions ("LMOs") to bring
about 200 temporary foreign workers from China, after rejecting
multiple Canadian applicants with exemplary qualifications.
The company claimed that there was a lack of expertise for the type
of mining operation planned for the mine, namely "long-wall
mining", a technique that is not used in many, if any,
existing Canadian mines.
The Court vindicated the company and Service Canada, which
granted the LMOs, finding that there was nothing to support the
unions' allegations and that Service Canada's decision to
grant the LMOs was reasonable. Unfortunately, the unsupported
allegations did bear fruit for the unions. Due to the public
outcry, which was exacerbated by the Royal Bank IT temporary
foreign worker controversy, the Federal government made a number of
changes to the temporary foreign worker programs. No matter
that the company was put to months of litigation, expense and
negative publicly, the unions' own political agenda was well
served. I am not surprised that the unions would make
unfounded allegations. My concern is how easily the unions
were able to manipulate the public perception and debate about
important economic issues and policy on the basis of their
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
A former teacher at Bodwell High School has learned a valuable lesson from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal— it is not discriminatory for an employer to offer child-related benefits to only employees with children.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
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