Chinese Miners' Arrival In B.C. Challenged In Court

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Hundreds of Chinese workers hired to work in a mine in northern B.C. could have their trips delayed or even cancelled while two unions challenge their jobs in court.

At least 200 Chinese workers have been issued temporary work permits for the Murray River Coal Mine near Tumbler Ridge operated by HD Mining.

The company has said there aren't any qualified workers in Canada who can work at the mine, which will be using a method of underground mining that's not in use anywhere else in Canada.

But on Wednesday evening in Vancouver the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Construction and Specialized Workers' Union asked a federal court Justice Douglas Campbell to grant an injunction to stop the workers from arriving.

The unions' lawyer Charles Gordon says there are qualified Canadian workers who want those jobs.

"These jobs have been offered to temporary foreign workers, hundreds of temporary foreign workers, potentially thousands of temporary foreign workers, before Canadians are given an opportunity to have those jobs."

"We are seeking orders that would prohibit further foreign nationals from coming to Canada under the LMOs that the government has indicated were not properly issued."

The lawyer for HD Mining says the company followed the process of hiring the Chinese workers to the letter of the law and a delay could be "catastrophic" for the project, but he refused to comment further outside the courthouse.

The hearing is scheduled to resume on Friday.

The federal government said last week it's already reviewing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.The proceedings will resume on Friday in federal court in Vancouver.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley issued a statement Thursday saying the Conservative government isn't satisfied HD Mining Ltd. followed all the rules when it sought foreign worker permits for its proposed mine near Tumbler Ridge, B.C., which she said raises broader questions about the program.

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