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Tree planters head to BC Human Rights Tribunal

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The tree planters who went public about the poor conditions they were forced to work in back in 2010 are headed to the BC Human Rights Tribunal on Monday.

They claim they were the victims of extreme acts of racism.

The complaints against Khaira Enterprises were lodged after the workers had been employed and living in the company’s camps for a number of months.

Most of the 50 complainants were recently landed immigrants from Africa, employed in Canada for the first time.

“They were subjected to racial slurs, discrimination and violence. They were given few breaks. They were forced to live in cramped storage containers. They were given expired and sometimes undercooked food,” alleges Sarah Khan, a lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

The Employment Standards Branch has already ruled the company owed the workers $260,000 in wages, half of which has been paid.

And Khan says Employment Insurance issues are outstanding.

“Many of the employees had their EI claims denied because the contractor submitted fraudulent records of employment for them. Many have not received their employment insurance for their work in 2010.”

The company has been the subject of WorkSafe and forest safety ombudsperson investigations.

After the allegations surfaced in 2010, the Ministry of Forests terminated its contract with Khaira and barred it from applying for contracts for the next year.