10/22/2012 06:44 EDT | Updated 12/22/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. Group Calls for Suspension Of Chinese Miner Permits

The B.C. Federation of Labour is calling for the suspension of temporary foreign worker program permits for a coal mine in northeastern B.C.

The BCFL wants the provincial and federal governments to investigate concerns over the hiring of 200 Chinese workers to work in an underground coal mine near Tumbler Ridge.

Concerns include how the workers were recruited and whether or not Canadian miners were given a fair chance to work at the mine first.

HD Mining International, the company developing the coal mine, received 300 applications and interviewed nearly 100 Canadian workers, but none were qualified to work in the mine, said vice-president Jody Shimkus.

"We require temporary foreign workers because we are introducing a highly mechanized form of long-wall mining to the province. There's currently no active long-wall mining going on in Canada or B.C.," Shimkus said.

Shimkus said all the Chinese workers are employed with their parent company in China.

The BCFL has said it is skeptical of the claim that there are no skilled miners to work underground in Canada.

It wants a full investigation and review of the temporary foreign worker program to ensure the rights of Canadian and foreign workers are being upheld.

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