BURNABY, B.C.—The United Steelworkers (USW) has filed a legal complaint with the province’s minister of mining in a bid to suspend operations at a British Columbia coal mine.
The USW, which represents some 5,000 miners in the province, filed the complaint with Rich Coleman, Minister of Mines, Energy and Natural Gas, and ministry chief inspector Al Hoffman citing numerous alleged violations of the B.C. Mines Act and mines code.
According to the union, it is asking the ministry to order a suspension of work at HD Mining’s Murray River coalmine in northeastern B.C.
The complaint involves the company’s use of temporary foreign workers from China.
Filed by Victory Square Law Office on behalf of the USW, the complaint claims the Chinese workers are not adequately trained in the English language, which it says poses a health and safety threat in an already dangerous business.
“Underground mining is one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada,” the letter reads.
Citing sections of the Health and Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia, the complaint says all mine workers must “have appropriate facility in the English language” to contribute to safe operation of the mine.
“Given the dangers posed by a continuous production underground coal mine, it is critical that all workers have a clear understanding of workplace safety and rules at all times,” USW western Canada director Steve Hunt said in a statement.
“Inserting a foreign national without fluency in English into such a maze of overlapping and precise safety requirements is a recipe for disaster.”
The union is asking that the ministry order a suspension of work at the mine until it is brought into compliance with code.
It is also seeking an investigation into alleged violations under the Province’s Mines Act.