Oilsands company to rehire employees after foreign worker controversy
A oilsands company accused of laying off more than 60 workers in favour of hiring temporary foreign workers said Friday that they will reinstate all Canadian employees and will co-operate with the ministry of labour.
The federal government began examining the hiring practices of an Alberta oilsands company after ironworkers said they were let go from their jobs at the Kearl Mine, north of Fort McMurray, last week.
Vic Nilson, a journeyman ironworker who worked at the mine for the past eight months, said he and his colleagues were told last Tuesday to leave last week with no word as to why.
“I'm disgusted along with everybody else that got let go there,” Nilson said.
“[There was] no reason. We had a great safety record up there ... as far as I know we were on schedule and we were given no reason for this.”
Harry Tostowaryk, with the Ironworkers union, said 40 temporary foreign workers from Croatia were brought in to fill those jobs.
But Pacer Promec Joint Venture, a contractor for the mining site, said Friday it would rehire all the Canadians that lost their jobs because of the hiring of foreign workers.
The company said one of their subcontractors applied to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program because of a labour shortage of ironworkers, according to the release.
However, despite saying they had been in compliance with the program, PPJV now says they apologize and will cooperate with the ministry of labour.
“On behalf of PPJV, I regret that our actions, which we believe are consistent with the legislation, led to the current controversy,” said Paolo Cattelan, managing partner for the PPJV.
“These temporary workers should have been assigned to other projects where there is an existing labour shortage.”
An official from Pacer Promec told CBC News the company does not have temporary foreign workers on staff right now, but documents show that in the fall of 2013 the company was trying to bring in workers from Croatia.
Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan says the Croatian workers are making half the salary of the Canadian workers.