LMS Steel Mistreats Foreign Workers

Victor Atkinson, Staff Writer

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LMS Reinforcing Steel Group is one of Western Canada’s largest companies for the construction industry. I work for them part time on the weekends and I couldn’t be a happier employee! I’m slowly on my way to receiving benefits for medical and dental, also I just received a substantial raise. But for all of the employees of LMS, I can’t say the same, particularly the foreign workers. We employee workers from all over Europe. Skilled tradesmen from Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Italy and the UK are on crews all over the lower mainland; we employ over 100 of them, but lately the company has been doing some restructuring and firing foreign workers before their two year contract expires.

 

David Bowler, a temporary foreign worker from Ireland, was let go on Febuary 4th of this year. His contract was set to expire in August of 2014. It is such a common reoccurance on any construction site, not just ironworking, that workers come and go. One day, you can have a crew of ten guys, the next day you can have only a crew of eight guys, and you’re the only return worker. Mr. Bowler feels that he was treated unfairly and let go for no specific reason, and he is set to have his case heard by the British Columbia Labour Board later this week. Norm Streu, President of LMS, also our top lawyer, is quoted as saying “Mr. Bowler was never treated as unfair, and was paid very well during his time at LMS and was let go for due cause.” He also said he wasn’t in any position to comment more on the case because it is active and under review.

 

On my crew at the Solo District Project in North Burnaby, we have two foreign workers, Antonio and Osama; they’re two of the nicest guys I’ve met on the site, and the most knowledgeable. As a rookie, I always seek their help, though they usually offer assistance without me having to ask. I’ve noticed that since Antonio speaks the least English, he’s usually stuck with some of the less important jobs. Considering his more than 15 years experience in the field, I can imagine Antonio feels a little humiliated and less important performing jobs like garbage clean up. This is one of many examples of assigning foreign workers less desirable jobs.

 

Being a rookie, I can’t walk up to my foreman and complain that Antonio is being treated unfairly. You can’t complain on a construction site. However, if Antonio was fired just because we had to ‘restructure’, I would probably quit too. It is extremely unfair to treat these workers to constantly be treated as rookies when they are veterans of the trade just because they’re foreign workers. All LMS workers should be treated fairly, reguardless of any kind of status. LMS is a family, we are all equal, and should be treated as such. I hope Mr. Bowler has a fair review, and that the Labour Board does something about his issue and that LMS acts accordingly and fixes their mistake.

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LMS Steel Mistreats Foreign Workers