EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Feb. 10, 2014) - The 65 workers who were replaced by Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) last week have still lost their jobs, despite claims to the contrary.
In response to public outrage over Canadian workers being displaced by low-wage imports, Pacer-Promec Joint Ventures announced in a press release that they would "re-hire Canadians to impacted positions that had been filled with temporary foreign workers." The workers in question have not been contacted about being rehired, nor has the union that represents them been contacted.
"The company misled reporters on Friday with a press release that vaguely indicated that displaced workers would be rehired," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "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. We'll work hand-in-hand to ensure these workers are rehired and companies that displace Canadians are held to account."
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, 65 Ironworkers employed by Pacer-Promec Joint Ventures at Imperial Oil's Kearl Lake oilsands site were told they were no longer employed there. Their jobs were then taken over by Temporary Foreign Workers earning about half what they had been making.
"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."
Outrage over the Temporary Foreign Worker program has forced the federal government to make public overtures of curtailing its abuses. At the same time, however, Minister Jason Kenney opened up what is called the Occupation Specific Pilot Project for Temporary Foreign Workers, which allows some employers to make an end-run around all checks and balances on the program.
"Pacer-Promec seems unrepentant. Their press release only expresses regret for the controversy, not for undermining Canadian workers," McGowan said. "They even end the release by vowing to continue using Temporary Foreign Workers wherever they feel they need them, which in their world could just mean whenever Canadians aren't willing to take a 50 per cent pay cut."