Monday, December 15, 2008

Ah But You See Now Real Money Is Involved

To their credit, the Harper government has largely (wholly?) ignored calls from its political base to repeal Section 13 of the CHRA. However, it didn't take long for them to indicate their displeasure with the BCHRT's decision re Construction and Specialized Workers' Union Local 1611 obo Foreign Workers v. SELI Canada, in which foreign workers were judged to have been

...given inferior accommodation, denied any choice about what to eat . . . [and] worked side by side with Europeans who were paid substantially more than they were for performing substantially the same work.

On the Dec 14th, Jason Kenney said:

“I am very concerned by the recent decision of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal regarding wages for temporary foreign workers, particularly in light of the fact that these workers were being compensated at the same level as Canadian workers, and had voted to decertify the union that filed the complaint."

A rather complex ruling, and I admit to having only skimmed the thing so far, but its clear that even this brief statement contains a number of distortions. For one thing, the complaint was in regards to the wages of a number of South American workers vs. their European counterparts (Seli being an Italian company that digs tunnels all over the planet), not vs. home-grown Vancouver workers.

For another, while it is true that a number of the complainants voted to no longer be represented by their union, this vote, arranged by the company, was itself judged to be a retaliatory act against the complainants:

The crux of the Union’s retaliation complaint is a petition which the Employer presented to members of the Complainant Group for signature. It was written in Spanish. Translated, it says: “I no longer wish the Union to represent me before the Human Rights Tribunal.” (para. 21)

The result: $10,000 for each employee, an appeal by Seli Canada, and a bit of finger-wagging by the federal government.

H/t Shotgun Blog.

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