Local 115 calls on HD Mining to hire some of 300 coal miners facing unemployment

News Release Friday September 12 — The union representing 300 coal miners losing their jobs at Peace River Coal in Tumbler Ridge is denouncing the controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program, saying the only miners left working in the town are from China, not Canada.

Yesterday Peace River Coal announced its operations will go into a staggered shutdown, with the mine put into a “care and maintenance” status by the end of the year.

“What kind of a sad statement is it that we now have a fourth coal mine in Tumbler Ridge shutting down, another 300 coal miners out of a job and the only miners left working are Temporary Foreign Workers from China at HD Mining’s coal mine development?” asked Cochrane.

“The Temporary Foreign Workers Program in Tumbler Ridge means Canadians aren’t working – just workers from another country,” he added.

Cochrane’s union launched a Federal Court action in 2013 to block the use of Temporary Foreign Workers by HD Mining and while unsuccessful, did force the federal government to significantly change TFW rules.

“Here we see the consequences for Canadian workers of the abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program,” Cochrane says. “The workers who came to Canada from China have done nothing wrong – but the federal government has made a huge mistake in allowing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to take the jobs of Canadians across the country.”

Cochrane said the union is asking HD Mining to hire some of the experienced and qualified miners from Peace River Coal at its Tumbler Ridge mine development.

“HD Mining rightfully received enormous criticism after it advertised for Mandarin-speaking workers and rejected over 300 Canadian applicants, some of whom were extremely qualified for those jobs,” Cochrane said. “Now we are calling on HD Mining to do the right thing for this suffering community and hire some of the best miners in Canada to work on this project – and help the situation a little.”

Cochrane said IUOE Local 115 is committed to working with Peace River Coal on an orderly shutdown and maximum notice and severance for the workers there, with meetings scheduled for next week with the company.

“This is a terrible blow to Tumbler Ridge and our hearts go out to all our members who are coal miners losing their jobs, their families and the community,” Cochrane said. “We will do everything we can to help them find other employment.”

“But this should be yet another wake up call for the federal government and especially
Employment and Social Development Canada Minister Jason Kenney, who is responsible for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. It’s time to make protecting Canadians’ jobs the government’s top priority, not bringing workers in from other countries when we don’t have jobs in communities like Tumbler Ridge,” Cochrane said.

For more information: Brian Cochrane, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115, cell 604-240-0827 or office 604-291-8831 or Brett Chapman IUOE Local 115 Business Representative 604-291-8831 or cell 604-996-0157 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, cell 778-896-0964 or 604-844-7827.