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Abused B.C. tree planters receive partial unpaid wages

Deprived of food, water and toilets, 30 workers, most recent immigrants, have been rescued from a remote forestry camp in Golden, B.C., August 10, 2010.

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Some long overdue wages are finally being paid to 57 tree planters, more than a year after they were found without adequate food, water or shelter in a remote camp in southeastern B.C.

Minister of Labour Stephanie Cadieux says the former employees of Khaira Enterprises are splitting the $105,000 held in trust since the workers were discovered in the squalid camp near Golden, in July 2010.

The money is part of a Ministry of Forests holdback of payments due to the Surrey-based contractor and makes up just under half of the $228,000 in back wages the B.C. Employment Standards Branch ordered the company to pay its tree planters.

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Ms. Cadieux says the province will pursue the owners and directors of Khaira, to ensure the remaining wages are paid to the mainly immigrant workers – many who had only recently arrived from Africa.

In addition to the payment order from the Employment Standards Branch, the discovery of the abused and hungry workers prompted an investigation by B.C.'s forest safety ombudsman.

That report, issued in late July, made 13 recommendations, such as changing the way forestry contracts are awarded, to ensure the lowest bidder is not automatically successful.

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