Unions blast hiring of foreign labour for Winnipeg hospital
Unions accuse Pagnotta Industries of overlooking local workers
The Manitoba government says it will look into some unions' complaints that a contractor has hired foreign workers to help build a new women's hospital in Winnipeg.
Officials with at least two local construction unions say they helped spread the word when Pagnotta Industries issued a call for skilled workers at the hospital, which is under construction at Sherbrook Street and William Avenue.
But despite what the unions say was no shortage of interest from local labourers, the Edmonton-based contractor obtained permission to hire temporary foreign workers.
The unions are accusing Pagnotta of bypassing local workers in order to save costs.
Veteran foreman Marc Oliveira said he applied twice with Pagnotta and never heard back. He then heard that some workers were hired from overseas.
"I just think they don't like unions in general," he said Tuesday.
"They're not giving us a chance, or [it] doesn't seem like they want to give anybody from Manitoba a chance."
Victor Dasilva of Local 1258 of the Construction and Specialized Workers Union said almost half of the positions went to workers from Ireland, while some other jobs were filled by people from outside the province.
Only six of the 22 jobs have gone to workers from Manitoba, he said.
Dasilva said while he does not object to foreign labour, he wants Manitobans to have priority on this kind of project.
Company owner Alex Pagnotta told CBC News that Manitoba has a shortage of employees with specific skills, including concrete form workers, which is why he was granted permission to bring in labourers from overseas.
Pagnotta said there are 40 more positions available, and he is encouraging Manitobans to apply.