Tree planters awarded $225,000

Workers 'virtual slaves' with little food, no sanitation and bounced paycheques
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 02/01/2011

A tree planting company must pay more than $225,000 in unpaid wages to more than two dozen tree planters, the British Columbia Employment Standards Branch has ruled.

The province opened an investigation against Surrey, B.C.-based Khaira Enterprises last July after forestry ministry staff discovered the tree planters were working and living in "substandard conditions" in a work camp in southeastern B.C.

The majority of the workers are landed immigrants from Burundi and the Republic of Congo. They said they had little food, no sanitation, unheated shelter and their paycheques bounced.

The workers were removed from the camp west of Golden, B.C. at the end of July and B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair said Khaira Enterprises treated the employees like "virtual slaves."

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