Steelworkers Seek Apology from BC Jobs Minister
BURNABY, BC, Oct. 17, 2012 - The United Steelworkers (USW) is seeking an apology and retraction from B.C. Jobs Minister Pat Bell in relation to false comments he made that were reported in the October 17, 2012 edition of the Vancouver Sun.
In the story entitled "Jobs minister says province needs foreign workers to meet labour shortage," the following statements appear:
Bell said there is no basis for unions like the United Steelworkers to make claims they have members who can fill those jobs. He singled out one example, an underground coal mine in Grande Cache, Alta., where Steelworkers members are already employed yet temporary workers were brought in to provide additional needed labour. The mine is advertising for more underground coal miners on its website.
"In Grande Cache, Alberta, there are temporary foreign workers and United Steelworkers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in that mine working. And it's the only way that mine is kept open," Bell said. "The rhetoric on this is flying at levels that I haven't seen in my 11 years in the political arena. I suspect it has a lot more to do with the election cycle than the realities of actually working collaboratively and trying to find a solution to this."
In his rush to attack those who are standing up for BC workers and distract from the provincial government's own failure, Minister Bell got it wrong.
The coal mine he refers to is Grande Cache Coal, located in Grande Cache, Alberta, and it is not represented by the United Steelworkers. There are, in fact, no Steelworker members in that mine. The workers there are represented by the United Mine Workers of America - a completely different union, with no affiliation to the United Steelworkers.
"I'm disappointed that Minister Bell would state something that is completely factually incorrect. Instead of coming clean with the public about his government's plan to deny job opportunities for British Columbians in favour of temporary foreign workers, he's attacking the United Steelworkers by citing a mining operation which we don't represent and where we don't even have any members," says Steve Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada.
The United Steelworkers is requesting that Minister Bell immediately apologize for his accusations and false statements.