Some foreign workers unqualified to work – says union
Posted by mhudema on June 16, 2008
By CAROL CHRISTIAN, SUN MEDIA
FORT MCMURRAY — With increasing mistrust of government regulation of electricians’ trade qualifications, some in the oilsands are taking matters into their own hands.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has a team of Asian workers that now checks the references and the work histories of Chinese immigrants seeking membership before working in the oilsands.
It’s being done as part of an effort to weed out some Chinese immigrants who are unqualified, even though they hold Ontario industrial electrician trade tickets or the Alberta equivalent.
The number of people flocking to Fort McMurray after getting industrial electrician tickets in Ontario has steadily increased over the past few months, said IBEW business manager Tim Brower.
“If the government says you’re qualified, it’s (always been) good enough for us,” he said.
“Now we’ve found that there’s a huge percentage of these people that, when they actually get … on the job, that they’re not qualified construction electricians.”
Greg Flood of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said an investigation is continuing into two schools in Toronto.
Donna Babchishin of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology said Alberta officials are co-operating in the investigation.
“We found there was a company from Ontario that was actually advertising (in the Chinese media) they would train people to pass their journeyman exam,” said Brower.
The union soon noticed it was the same school some applicants were putting down as their work experience.
“We connected the dots,” he added.
While the province sent notices to electrical contractors warning them some employees may not be qualified, “it’s not going to fix the problem that there (are) already hundreds and hundreds of unqualified people working in the province,” said Brower.