By David F. Rooney
Alarmed by last month’s discovery of allegedly neglected workers in a labour camp in the woods near Golden, the Shuswap Columbia District Labour Council is asking everyone who regularly uses the forests for work and recreation to keep an eye out for similar situations.
“So much has been scaled back that there just aren’t enough people to ensure that this kind of thing isn’t happening,” SCDLC President Michelle Cole said at the labour group’s regular meeting last Thursday. “What can unions in Revelstoke and Salmon Arm do to help ensure this doesn’t happen again?”
She said the labour council, which is a BC Federation of Labour-affiliated umbrella group for local unions, will ask ATVers and others who use the mountains and forests on a regular basis to keep an eye out for similar situations. It is also asking concerned citizens to write letters asking the provincial government to improve its enforcement of the existing labour laws.
The SCDLC decided to undertake this action forestry officials investigating a complaint about smoke in the woods near Golden discovered 20 mostly black tree planters living in has been described as a state of neglect at a Khaira Enterprises work camp 40 km outside Golden. The province is investigating the complaints by the mostly Congolese migrant workers who said they were stranded in a camp with no sanitation facilitiies and had not been paid.
“It’s not just tree planters,” said SCDLC Vice-President Terry Coates. “We don’t want to limit it to just them.”
The labour council believes that lax enforcement of provincial labour laws are leaving workers vulnerable to unscrupulous employers.
People of all walks of life who are concerned for the health and safety of BC workers are encouraged to send a letter by e-mail to the Shuswap Columbia District Labour Council at email@example.com. All letters received will be passed along to area MLAs and to the provincial government. Please include your name and contact information.
You can view a CBC-TV story regarding a news conference held by the workers here: