CBC News reports that, “Three dozen temporary workers who helped dig the Canada Line say they still haven’t been paid after a (2008) B.C. Human Rights Tribunal awarded them more than $2 million because they were paid half what their European counterparts received.” One labourer who was brought in from Costa Rica as part of a specialized team is owed $90,000. (The Canada Line is the Metro Vancouver rapid transit line completed in 2009 amid numerous controversies.)
The Human Rights ruling ordered SNC-Lavalin and Seli to pay each Latin American worker the same salary paid to others plus an additional $10,000 for injury to their dignity. The Labourers’ Union lawyer said, “Some of them were paid less than minimum wages. We won the largest human rights award in the history of Canada – $2.1 million. It’s now up to $2.5 million, but the employer refuses to pay.” The union says this case will set a precedent for foreign workers in the future, since SNC-Lavalin will also be building another rapid transit project in the Vancouver area – the Evergreen Line.
Instead of complying with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling, SNC-Lavalin and Seli will argue against the ruling in B.C. Supreme Court next month.
Meanwhile, a $5 million lawsuit has been filed in Quebec Superior Court, alleging SNC-Lavalin has used Riadh Ben Aissa as a scapegoat in the company’s Libyan corruption scandal that saw SNC-Lavalin working closely with the despotic Gadhafi regime (Canadian Press, PR Web).
And, a recent Standard & Poor’s outlook on the timing of construction of the $1.3 billion Montreal superhospital, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), has changed from “stable” to “negative” (Montreal Gazette). Although the length of the delay was not specified, Standard and Poor’s blamed SNC-Lavalin. The Gazette reads, “The warning followed a dire assessment in July by another agency, DBRS Ltd., that there were ‘mounting concerns,’ and that construction was a half-year behind schedule for the research institute of the MUHC and four months behind for the superhospital.”
In Alberta, SNC-Lavalin is building the controversial Heartland Transmission Project together with AltaLink and EPCOR, plus the controversial Western Alberta Transmission Line and numerous other overhead high voltage transmission lines together with AltaLink. AltaLink is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec-based SNC-Lavalin.
See Alberta Primetime and Making Money by Making Friends for a discussion on SNC’s work in Alberta and its relationship with the Alberta P.C. Party.