Nova Scotia

Donkin coal mine's temporary foreign workers use 'strange,' says Cape Breton MP

Cape Breton MP Rodger Cuzner said he is encouraging the electricians' union to file a complaint with Service Canada.

Rodger Cuzner 'pursuing it with the the minister's office'

The Donkin coal mine is being developed by Kameron Coal, a subsidiary of the Cline Group, owned by billionaire coal baron Chris Cline. (CBC)

Cape Breton MP Rodger Cuzner says it's "strange" temporary foreign workers are being used at the Donkin coal mine and he wants to know why local people aren't being hired for those jobs.

"It certainly strikes me strange.... We're pursuing it with the the minister's office now to see what the status is," Cuzner said Wednesday.

The U.S. owners of the Donkin coal mine, Kameron Coal, confirmed earlier this week it brought three temporary foreign workers from West Virginia to get the mine into operation. 

Union encouraged to file complaint

The company said the temporary foreign workers are providing maintenance expertise "related to safety" but would not elaborate further.

About 50 people, mostly local, are working underground at Donkin.

A spokesperson for Local 1852 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Sydney told CBC News Tuesday there's no need for temporary foreign workers to be brought in if local people can do the job.

Cuzner said he is telling the electricians' union to file a complaint with Service Canada.

"We've encouraged [the union] to contact the Service Canada line if you think there is abuse of a temporary foreign worker or abuse of the program ... We've encouraged them to start that formal process," said Cuzner.

With files from Paul Withers