Saturday, August 21, 2010


As reported earlier on this blog the BC Federation of Labour is calling for a public inquiry on the silviculture (tree planting) industry in BC. This is in the wake of the revelation of recent abuses amounting to slave labour at a camp run by Khaira Enterprises Inc.. In Molly's opinion this inquiry is long overdue, and we can be certain that no participating paties will escape unscathed. As reported earlier on this blog Khaira has been operating in BC for over 10 years under both the present administration and the previous NDP government. It is also noteworthy that the board presumably overseeing this industry has at least "nominal" union representation. Here's the story from the BC Fed. >>>
Public Inquiry needed to clean up silviculture abuses
August 20, 2010
The BC Federation of Labour is calling on the provincial government to launch a public inquiry into silviculture regulations and enforcement in the province. An investigation by the Federation has uncovered a patchwork of regulations and the absence of any real enforcement.

The call for an inquiry follows shocking details on conditions at a Khaira Enterprises work camp near Golden in July and the death of a Khaira worker in Revelstoke in June.

"We have talked with former Khaira workers, government agencies and silviculture contractors," says Jim Sinclair, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour. "As more information emerges, it is clear we have multiple and systemic problems with the regulation of silviculture contractors in BC and with the enforcement of those regulations."

The Federation has learned that Khaira Enterprises was the successful bidder on a BC Timber Sales tree planting contract on Texada Island in March of this year. The Khaira bid was 30 percent lower than the next lowest bid and 37 percent lower than the average bid on the contract. The Federation has also learned that Khaira Enterprises had limited expertise in the difficult tree planting required in the contract that included helicopter, boat work and expensive logistics.

"While Khaira worked on Texada Island in March, complaints were received and the company was investigated by various agencies including BC Timber Sales, the WCB, the BC Forest Safety Council, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the RCMP," says Sinclair. "Instead of being shut down by these agencies, Khaira was allowed to move on to other publicly funded silviculture contracts in Kamloops, Revelstoke and Golden."

The Federation's investigation also suggests there are other silviculture contractors that ignore regulations with impunity and undercut legitimate contractors who follow the regulations.

"What we have right now is a race to the bottom where unscrupulous contractors like Khaira win contracts through unrealistic bids," says Sinclair. "The current situation is bad for silviculture workers, it is bad for our forests and it is bad for other silviculture contractors who follow the regulations. We need a public inquiry so that we can clean up this industry and stop this type of abuse."

For more information contact: Evan Stewart, Director of Communications, B.C. Federation of Labour (604) 430-1421.

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