Labour disputes like HD Mining could cost BC residents: SinfoFile
But not if one BC First Nation has anything to say about it.
BC residents could end up paying the price for disputes with Chinese-owned companies like HD Mining, if an ongoing First Nation's battle against a Sino-Canadian trade agreement fails.
Last week, when HD Mining reported it had repatriated 16 workers on its sample coal extraction project in Northeast British Columbia to settle its legal dispute with local unions, the company's chair had some choice words for Canadian authorities:
"We need to be able to rely on the Canadian legal system – and receive fair treatment from governments – when planning and developing projects," Penggui Yan said in his company's release, maintaining that no Canadian nationals were fit for the positions.
"In the absence of being able to find Canadians qualified and interested to do this work, we need to know we can rely on the two-year temporary foreign worker authorizations we received."
Yan's message to the "Canadian legal system" on "fair treatment" echoes the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA), which includes investor arbitration rights that would empower Chinese-owned enterprises to sue Canada “in cases where the host country attempts to impose new or updated regulations that may interfere with the investor's bottom line,” Osgoode Law professors Gus Van Harten told The Vancouver Observer in October.
Last month, BC's own Hupacasath First Nation launched an initiative to block Ottawa from signing FIPA, saying that the agreement would infringe on their existing aboriginal right to resources.
But the First Nation was not only concerned with its own rights.
"This is about Canadians," Hupacasath Councillor Brenda Sayers told VO. Sayers explained that under the investor arbitration provisions, Chinese companies that win lawsuits against the Canadian government for gestures that prejudice their business would be paid off in Canadian tax funds.
Essentially, everyday Canadians would foot the bill for instances where Chinese companies don't receive, as HD Mining's Yan says, "fair treatment from governments – when planning and developing projects."
Today, Yan told The Globe and Mail that the workers brought over from China were necessary in this sample phase of the coal mining project, because they understand 'longwall mining' technology.
Yan has expressed that he was unfairly pressured into sending his staff back to the People's Republic, which he did days after a pending legal battle with the Construction and Specialized Workers Union and the International Union of Operating Engineers forced him to hand 300 rejected resumes over to the syndicalists.
The unions reported that countless applicants had decades of qualifications, and that Ottawa had unfairly granted the company 201 Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) allowances.