Of Fines & Foreign Labour
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Of Fines & Foreign Labour

Vancouver : Canada | Jan 24, 2011 at 7:18 PM PST
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It is a dirty and thankless task at best. You look out at the burnt and tangled landscape before you...you shoulder your bag of Douglas Fir saplings and grunt. With blistered hands and tired legs you stride upward with a shovel or maddock in your hand. You scrape for soil where often there is none. You sink a shovel into hard hit screeching granite that jars your shoulder. You seek rich dirt to sink the precious roots of future trees. You sweat and strain and struggle up each unending hill.

You expect to be paid for all this effort!

Kudos and congrats to Jim Sinclair and the BC Federation of Labour for seeking justice for 30 tree planters from Burundi and the Republic of the Congo for seeking redress of both unpaid wages and terrible conditions.

AND..a big "thumbs down" on both Khaira Enterprises and the BC Government contract that allowed such terrible conditions in the camp to prevail.

The BC Fed went to bat for these workers to the tune of $225,000 in unpaid wages. The Fed was approached last July with complaints of harsh camp conditions and racist threats. I gather today the company was fined a meagre $3500 for their "infractions"? Too little..too late.

I was surprised to hear that foreign workers were being contracted to plant our trees! There was a time (not long ago) when Canadian college and university students used to do this work. I, myself, used to be paid an hourly union wage by McMillan-Bloedel to reforest slopes on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Then it went to contractors..and soon "hippies" and French Canadians would plant our trees for piece-work on our ravaged hills.

And now?...imported "contract" workers from very foreign shores can be abused by unscrupulous and sinister bidders.

"As the twig is bent; the tree's inclined"

Alexander Pope

Just where does the Buck stop?

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Andy Mathisen is based in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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