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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
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    :: Sunday, October 01, 2006 ::

    Ironworkers Chastise Bilfinger - Canada NewsWire
    Senior officials of Ironworkers Local 97 are again chastising German construction firm, Bilfinger Berger for not being forthright about why they're hiring temporary foreign workers when there are over 1500 unemployed ironworkers in Canada.

    'They're nuts,' said Perley Holmes, Business Manager for Ironworkers Local 97. 'Bilfinger Berger has been able to convince the Federal Government to bring in temporary foreign workers, when I've got guys right here and across Canada who want to work on the Golden Ears Bridge.'

    'Bilfinger Berger is paying LOWER wages and benefits than other unionized contractors to their temporary foreign workers,' said Holmes. 'They're not paying fair market rates, and this is putting pressure on other contractor firms to reduce wages and benefits and look at hiring temporary foreign workers.'

    'The current union rate accepted by unionized ironworker contractors throughout B.C. is $38.60 per hour for wages and benefits. Bilfinger is offering a package that's less than $32 per hour. Bilfinger's so-called policy of hiring Canadians first is a sham,' said Holmes. 'When Bilfinger says they are paying union wages under a collective agreement they ought to mention that the collective agreement was a 'sweetheart' deal signed with CLAC, when only a handful of workers worked for Bilfinger.'

    'Bilfinger knows that if they paid the market wage rate, they would have no need to hire temporary foreign workers. Our members would be willing to build the bridge. Bilfinger knows, because we have told them, what the going wage rate is for ironworkers. For them to suggest that they have a policy of hiring BC-first is hard to believe, when they know the wages they are offering are not competitive with what Canadian contractors are paying,' continued Holmes.

    'There's an irony here, because in at least one situation, Bilfinger, through its sub-contractors is paying the going industry rate on another part of the Bridge job. Who's fooling who here?' he said."
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