Chinese miners being recruited to work in Canada are paying more than $12,500 CAD for the privilege, The Tyee has learned, and their actual wages are less than those advertised.There has been uproar from unions this week after it was learned more than 2,000 Chinese miners would be on their way to British Columbia to work in mines run by Canadian Dehua International, a Vancouver-based company founded and run by a former Chinese government official, to name one company involved.
Posing as a Chinese miner, The Tyee made contact with two of three companies that placed ads on a Chinese website similar to Craigslist called Bai Xing and discovered the workers are paying the recruiters expensive fees in exchange for jobs in Canada.
The ads were placed on the employment pages of the site for the Chinese provinces of Shanxi, Henan and Sichuan, but agents did not know which mine they were recruiting for, only that they were in Canada.
One of the recruiters, who claimed to be working for a British Columbia-based company called the Canada CIBS Investment and Trade Group said 30,000 yuan ($4,700 CAD) is paid upon a contract being signed in China, and an additional 50,000 yuan ($7,800 CAD) is paid over 20 months after arrival in Canada.
"We are an employment agency and we need to charge you an agent fee," wrote the recruiter in a conversation in Chinese via QQ, a Chinese version of MSN Messenger.
"Before you leave China, you must pay us 30,000 yuan, when you live in Canada, you must pay the rest -- 50,000 yuan."
According to China's state-run media outlet Xinhua, a coal miner in China earns about 1,000 yuan a month, making the upfront agency fee two-and-a-half-year’s salary for workers who accept the offer.
The recruiter said the employer will deduct the remaining recruiter's fee from workers' paycheques, about $400 CAD a month.
Recruiters state lower pay rate than advertised
The advertisement offered miners jobs in Canadian mines at a rate of $25 to $30 per hour, but according to the recruiter the wage is actually between $22 and $25 per hour.
The agent said applicants need a mining certificate or a reference from a company to be accepted, but the training and letter from the company could be provided for an extra 1,000 yuan ($160 CAD).
The miners' presence in Canada is dependent on their employer and they will live in dorms, must be able to speak 100 English words and are allowed to do what they please when not at work.
A recruiting ad translated by The Tyee included the promise of "a possibility of immigrating to Canada" and the ability to "sponsor your family to Canada, too."
Under Canadian law, skilled temporary guest workers can apply to immigrate to Canada after four years, but their families can come over well before then.
"After you work in Canada for six months you can bring your family," said the agent, becoming seemingly irritated with a follow-up question about if families would live in dorms as well.