Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Vancouver: Canada Line’s foreign workers faced discrimination, says tribunal
By Carlito Pablo (Georgia Straight)
Publish Date: December 3, 2008
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that temporary foreign workers who helped build the underground tunnel in Vancouver for the Canada Line were discriminated against by their employers. (Illustration by Claudio Munoz)
In a 218-page ruling issued today (December 3), a tribunal panel states that the complaint filed on behalf of the mostly Latin American workers by Local 1611 of the Construction and Specialized Workers’ Union was “justified”.
“We conclude that CSWU has established that members of the Complainant Group were discriminated against by the Respondents on the grounds of race, colour, ancestry and place of origin”, the ruling states.
Named respondents in the case were SELI Canada Inc., a subsidiary of the Rome, Italy-based SELI SPA; SNC Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc., a subsidiary of SNC Lavalin Canada Inc.; and SNCP-SELI Joint Venture, which is the tie-up company responsible for the tunnel part of the Canada Line project.
As the panel summarized, there were four aspects of the complaint.
First, the Latin Americans were paid less than Europeans employed to do the same work.
Second, the workers were housed in inferior accommodations compared to most of the Europeans.
Third, the Latin Americans were a given different meal arrangement.
Lastly, the Latin Americans were given expense arrangements less favourable than those for the European workers.
The panel ordered the respondents to pay the complainants the differences between the salaries and expenses paid to them and those that were paid to their European counterparts.
The panel also ordered the respondents to pay the Latin American workers $10,000 each as “compensation for injury to dignity”.