Canadian Manufacturing

Canadians replaced by foreign workers still not back on job: AFL

Alberta Federation of Labour alleges company still hasn't hired back workers despite claims



EDMONTON—The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) alleges workers who were unceremoniously turfed from their jobs at an oilsands project still haven’t been rehired despite claims to the contrary.

Pacer-Promec Joint Ventures drew plenty of public ire last week when news surfaced that 65 employees working at Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake oilsands site north of Fort McMurray, Alta., were fired and replaced by foreign nationals from foreign nationals at half the pay.

The trouble made it all the way to Ottawa, where federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney called for an urgent review into the matter.

The outrage led Pacer-Promec to issue a statement claiming it would “re-hire Canadians to impacted positions that had been filled with temporary foreign workers.”

But according to the AFL, the unionized workers “have not been contacted about being rehired, nor has the union that represents them been contacted.”

“The company misled reporters … with a press release that vaguely indicated that displaced workers would be rehired,” AFL president Gil McGowan said in a statement.

“To date, these workers have not received any job offer from Pacer, nor has the union that represents them. Most of them would like to return to the job site, but they haven’t yet been offered that opportunity.”

The federal government said the laid off workers have jobs again, but said they received job offers on “other projects in the area.”

Pacer-Promec used the federal Temporary Foreign Worker program to bring in the workers that replaced the Canadians at the Imperial Oil site.

“It’s a perfect example of how this program is being used to drive down wages,” McGowan said. “And this situation is not unique. This is happening at work sites all over the country because this is how the Temporary Foreign Worker program is designed to operate.”

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