Khaira Enterprises

A forum for discussion about various silviculture companies. No defamation please!
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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Sebastian » Thu Jul 21, 2011 5:48 pm

A decent article from Huffington Post on this case.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/07/20 ... 05266.html

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:11 pm


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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Evergreen » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:46 pm

Khaira Tree Planters, One Year Later
Despite Legal Victories, Wages and EI Remain Unpaid

(Vancouver) July 20, 2011. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the closure of the Khaira camp in Golden, B.C. where tree planters, primarily of African origin, were effectively enslaved, trapped in the woods living and working under deplorable conditions, and not paid. The conditions the workers endured were uncovered following an investigation by the B.C. Federation of Labour.

BC’s Employment Standards Tribunal recently upheld the February 4, 2011 decision of the Employment Standards Branch (ESB), ordering Khaira Enterprises Ltd. to pay $236,800.52 in unpaid wages. To date, workers have not seen a penny of their money even though they won their appeal.

BCPIAC lawyer Ros Salvador, counsel to several former Khaira employees, recently received internal government documents that show Khaira was awarded contracts in 2010 without any consideration of past health or wage payment issues during its 2008 and 2009 government contracts, and that the Ministry of Forests was fully aware of the deplorable conditions and non-payment of wages as early as March 2010 and refused to take any effective action.

The Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association had warned the government that it was not possible to complete the contracts for the amount Khaira had bid. “All the government cared about was getting the trees planted and paying as little as possible” says Salvador. “Under the low-bid policy, government saves money through the exploitation of workers. We think the Ministry of Forests should pay the full amount of the workers’ wages, otherwise, government profits from the abuse caused by refusing to consider workers’ rights”.

Meanwhile, the federal government still has made no move to correct the workers’ hours and earnings so they can receive their Employment Insurance, continuing instead to rely on Khaira’s false records. Service Canada promised to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to make the corrections once it received the ESB Determination, but the ESB Determination was released five months ago and the file still has not been referred to CRA.

“These workers have waited far too long for the back wages and Employment Insurance to which they are entitled. The appropriate Provincial and Federal agencies need to ensure that former Khaira workers receive this money immediately,” says Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labour.

A report following an investigation by the B.C.’s Forest Safety Ombudsman is expected to be released shortly. “We hope the report will address the underlying government practices that ignore workers’ rights in favour of saving money” says Salvador.

Former Khaira workers will be available for comment at BCPIAC after 2:00 p.m. on July 20.
- 30 -

For more information, please contact
Ros Salvador, BCPIAC 604-687-3063
Evan Stewart, B.C. Federation of Labour 604-430-1421

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Scooter » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:54 am

We think the Ministry of Forests should pay the full amount of the workers’ wages, otherwise, government profits from the abuse caused by refusing to consider workers’ rights

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by barnbill » Sat Jul 23, 2011 9:33 am

By: Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca

Date: Friday Jul. 22, 2011 6:13 PM PT


The owner of a B.C. company accused of treating African tree-planters like slaves says he did nothing wrong, and plans to bid on more government contracts as soon as possible.

Khalid Bajwa of Khaira Enterprises says that he plans to go to B.C. Supreme Court to appeal a decision from the Employment Standards Branch ordering his company to pay $236,800 in unpaid wages to former workers.

"Why are these guys not satisfied with me?" Bajwa told ctvbc.ca. "We paid 100 per cent wages at the time."

He claims that workers at Khaira's government contract site near Golden were dumping seedlings rather than planting them, and they didn't deserve to be paid in full.

"I lost over 100,000 trees over these guys dumping the trees," he said. "If I get only 50 per cent of the work, we only pay 50 per cent of the wages."

Bajwa insists that the workers are only asking for money for the hours spent travelling to work sites, not any unpaid wages, and he shouldn't have to pay for that.

"They say that we have to pay them travel time. Why are they pushing me to pay the travel time when not any single company in B.C. pays travel time?" he said.

But according to a June 28 decision from the Employment Standards Tribunal dismissing an appeal from Khaira, "The former employees were owed regular and overtime wages, annual and statutory holiday pay, compensation for length of service, return of unauthorized deductions and interest."

Bajwa says that he will only pay the workers if his appeal is rejected in court.

"I can sell my property, I can sell my vehicle, and then I will pay," he said.

The B.C. government has filed a lawsuit against Bajwa's partner, Hardilpreet Singh Sidhu, claiming that he transferred ownership of his $605,000 house to his wife to avoid paying the tree planters.

The Employment Standards Branch is holding $105,000 in trust for the workers, but that money won't be released until the tribunal's appeal process is complete, which could take several months.

An appeal in B.C. Supreme Court will add years to the process.

Khaira was banned from government work for a year after officials discovered squalid conditions at the Golden camp. That injunction was scheduled to end this month, but the Ministry of Forests has had it extended until September 2012.

Bajwa was unaware of the extension, and says he plans to go back into business as soon as possible.

"If I see any bid in B.C., I can bid. I will bid. I did not do anything wrong," he said. "This company is like a mother to me. It is like a family."

He added that he doesn't plan to change anything about how the company operates.

"I think everything is ready, and we always send a notice to WorkSafe BC. If they want to come, they can inspect that place," he said.

Bajwa denies mistreatment of workers

Workers at Khaira's Golden site -- many of whom are recent immigrants from Africa -- complained that they slept seven men to a single trailer, fed rotten food, assaulted with knives and rocks and forced to live without clean drinking water and toilets.

They also say they were treated like animals and subjected to constant racial abuse, and a human rights complaint filed in January alleges that Khaira kept racially segregated living quarters and told African workers they would be fired if they spoke their native languages.

But Bajwa denies claims that workers were mistreated, and says that poor conditions at the camp were created by the employees.

"They go on strike because these guys do low quality of work," he said. "They destroyed everything."

Neighbours of another Khaira site on Texada Island complained to the government last year about conditions in that camp as well, where as many as 15 people were sleeping in a single trailer, washing themselves with cups of water and eating just one meal per day.

Ros Salvador, a lawyer who represents 25 Khaira workers, was speechless when she was told that Bajwa feels he did nothing wrong and plans to go back into business.

"The fact of someone showing absolutely no remorse for that degree of worker abuse and racial abuse is unthinkable," she said. "People were being underfed, fed rotten food, being ridiculously overworked -- working 13 hours a day or more -- racially abused and not paid."

She acknowledged that it's possible some of the workers were dumping trees, but added that it's not clear if they were actually instructed to do so by staff at Khaira to complete the contract more quickly.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Scooter » Sat Jul 23, 2011 10:11 am

"They say that we have to pay them travel time. Why are they pushing me to pay the travel time when not any single company in B.C. pays travel time?" he said.
Interesting. And somewhat incorrect.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Screefhead » Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:30 am

Few (if any) companies ever pay travel time.

The whole BCTS - Khairi fiasco is such a joke. One year later and the govt is still trying to pass the buck or explain the situation as some kind of isolated incident.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Mon Jul 25, 2011 2:30 pm

Screefhead wrote:Few (if any) companies ever pay travel time.
I beg to differ on this. Having audited dozens of companies, and worked at scores more, I can say that travel time is paid by the vast majority of companies. This does not mean you get extra money on top of planting for your travel. It means your calculated hours include those that are spent in transit from camp/motel/meeting point and the block (and back). Thus, if you fail to make minimal wage based on production, you are "paid" for your travel time when the company (assuming compliance) tops up your pay to meet minimum wage levels. To see if a company is "paying" you for travel, simply check how many EI hours you are given. If you leave at 7 and get home at 6, you should be getting 11 hours a day. If your employer is only creditting you for 8 in such situation, they are cheating you, they are cheating the system, and they are cheating the industry. This is explicitly laid out in the Employment Standards guidelines, and the vast majority of contractors understand this.

It will be interesting to see how this case continues to unfold, with the efforts to bust the Khaira owners for illegal transfer of property. It has being alleged that the owner transferred his house into his wife's name to protect himself in the case that he lost the lawsuit. This act is now being scrutinized, and the company may yet end up paying the full bill. (article links earlier provide details)

The major delay here, is that the government could not release the held-back contract payments until the window of appeal (for Khaira) had closed. There may still be avenue for further appeal, but at this point, it appears as though Khaira has lost the case.

We all wish for swift justice, but personally I'll take the right outcome over a speedy one. Of course, fast and right would be nice wouldn't it?

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Coaster » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:15 pm

It's easy to say that the right outcome is worth waiting for but try telling that to people who can't make ends meet because they still haven't been paid. The justice system protects perpetrators better than it protects victims.

There won't be a satisfactory outcome to this until the workers get paid and the BCTS bureaucrats responsible for allowing Khaira to continue to operate get hung out to dry. Perhaps then their colleagues will be too fearful to allow the next Khaira to shit the bed.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Mon Jul 25, 2011 10:19 pm

yes

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Mike » Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:09 pm

To see if a company is "paying" you for travel, simply check how many EI hours you are given. If you leave at 7 and get home at 6, you should be getting 11 hours a day. If your employer is only creditting you for 8 in such situation, they are cheating you, they are cheating the system, and they are cheating the industry. This is explicitly laid out in the Employment Standards guidelines, and the vast majority of contractors understand this.
I've been informed that by law, we're obliged to get 4 thirty minute breaks in the day; thus, if we work 12 hours, we only get EI hours for 10 of them, to account for the breaks. Of course, planters would probably choose to work through those breaks (or subdivide them; maybe eating for 5 minutes at a dozen bag-ups accounts for an hour of that...) Just wondering if you can comment on this being true, and reasonable?
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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Evergreen » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:39 pm

What we got from Labor Standards is that if you leave at 7 and get back at 5:30 = a 10 1/2 hour day that it is reasonable to expect a planter would take 1/2 an hour for lunch/breaks and therefore can be given 10 hours. If you're away from the marshalling point (motel,camp,etc.) for 12 hours then the contractor can give you up to 11.5 hours. There's no reason why the contractor wouldn't give you that many hours as it costs them nothing, unless they're underpaying you enough that minimum wage becomes a concern. We usually give 10 hours a day unless the drives are long and then we can give more.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Evergreen » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:44 pm

Back to the original topic - late breaking news that should make for a great read!

On Wednesday, July 27, Roger Harris, in his role as the BC Forest Safety Ombudsman will publicly release his report reviewing the system failures that contributed to the Khaira situation where workers were found living and working under deplorable conditions in a B.C. forestry camp between March and July of last year.

The Ombudsman’s impartial review began in March and has taken the last five months to conduct. Once the report is released to the public, the Ombudsman will be available to answer questions related to its contents and recommendations.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:49 am

Ombudsman's report now available at: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/other/prog_ ... t%20v9.pdf

I think Mr. Harris should have clearly stated at some point that Khaira is not (was not) a member of the WSCA. There are some good recommendations for the WSCA to do things, but what do they matter if the parties they are concerned about are not even members of their association?

Interesting that the report notes the existence of an ongoing investigation into the death of a worker in a Khaira camp during the same year. This story has clearly not run its course quite yet.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Coaster » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:45 am

Mr. Harris' report looks very much like government investigating government - lots of bureauspeak - recommendations that may or may not be implemented. I'm disappointed that no one seems to being singled out as responsible. No names are named, no BCTS personnel held accountable. They will likely go on their merry way deciding on a district by district basis whether to implement any of Mr. Harris' opinions. There were and still are characters in BCTS who do just what they want based on their many years playing cowboy dukes of their domain. The ones in Campbell River that allowed Khaira to escape Texada Island and to continue abusing workers, must be breathing one big sigh of relief as they appear to have escaped being held responsible.

I know revenge is not a virtue and hoping for heads to roll may not be fashionable. However I imagine that it will be business as usual for BCTS and their MOF (or whatever they're called now) masters. Until there's some accountability local area staff will continue to do what they've always done. They would respond much better for our purposes if they'd seen one or two of their own get disciplined.

The fact that there is no province wide database where foresters can look at contractor's performance ratings or at least be able to se if they've failed a contract or not paid their workers shows that there's little concern in the minds of the policy makers. There's little political mileage to be made out of this and so little will be done. I had hoped for a lot more than these vague promises of action. The report itself was months overdue, just imagine how long it will take to implement any changes, if in fact they do.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:43 am

Coaster wrote: ...
The fact that there is no province wide database where foresters can look at contractor's performance ratings or at least be able to see if they've failed a contract or not paid their workers shows that there's little concern in the minds of the policy makers. ...

Word of mouth goes a long way (in my sphere of influence anyway). Unfortunately within BCTS circles, such a database would be a waste of effort, since "the lowest price is the law" and nothing else seems to matter to them.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by newforest » Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:37 am

RPF wrote:"the lowest price is the law" and nothing else seems to matter to them.
with foresters, I have seen that thought with probably an overall majority. only a minority would spend more for quality reforestation work or even take much interest in it at all. I don't mean a tiny minority like 10% or something, but maybe a 60-40 split, who knows? anyway, among that 60% a chunk of those foresters aren't interested whatsoever in regeneration regardless of strategy. "I won't be around to see it" ... if you hear this classic from a forester, you can instantly tell that will be the case. some of them have to be dragged into it by regulations or client demand; all they care about is their next cruise/sale.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Coaster » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:30 pm

Let's not forget that in the vast majority of cases the field forester has little or no part in the decision as to how the planting contract is tendered or awarded. To a large degree "the Lowest Price is the Law" pertains to private industry almost as much as it does to government contracts.

It's the accountants and administrative foresters who determine how the work will be put out for bid. Unfortunately most of those kind of people are far enough removed from the actual doing of the real work and the people involved, that they feel no social and little silvicultural responsibility. Providing a "fair" price is way down their list while having their bottom lines look favorable to managers and shareholders is much more important.

Obviously there are exceptions. Where field foresters can demonstrate that direct awarding to a solid, dependable and SAFE contractor will ultimately prove better for the bottom line, managers can be persuaded to go that way. Not all managers are completely profit serving either as on rare occasion they give preference to local workforces.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Greg » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:29 am

[quote]It's the accountants and administrative foresters who determine how the work will be put out for bid. Unfortunately most of those kind of people are far enough removed from the actual doing of the real work and the people involved, that they feel no social and little silvicultural responsibility. Providing a "fair" price is way down their list while having their bottom lines look favorable to managers and shareholders is much more important.[/quote]


I have always wondered why these same accountants and administrative foresters do not have the foresight OR eventual hindsight to acknowledge that these jobs, where the "lowest price is the law", eventually need to get re-worked anyway.

If these jobs are getting done effectively, by all means, go with the lowest price. Too many times I have fill-planted blocks that have obviously been planted by contractors who have offered the 'lowest price'. Does this not go into the equation for these administrators? Keep going with the lowest price, lowest quality work and you are going to find yourself re-working more and more jobs. Pay the price to get the job done once.
That is up to our work force. Good experienced workers need to continue to leave low-priced work if they find themselves in those situations. The price of the tree should directly influence the quality of the work.
Keep on sluggin away..

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by mel_eff » Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:41 pm

Greg wrote:Good experienced workers need to continue to leave low-priced work if they find themselves in those situations. The price of the tree should directly influence the quality of the work.
I agree.

The day is coming really, really soon when most good, experienced planters are going to cut their losses and just not even bother showing up. You get what you pay for. Many times this past season I found myself slamming a bit (okay a lot), because if the client wanted 11cent trees, I'll be god damned if I planted him a 15 cent tree. Not to mention I'll be god damned if I worked my ass off for a measly $200.
Expect delays.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Rainman » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:58 pm

Many times this past season I found myself slamming a bit (okay a lot), because if the client wanted 11cent trees, I'll be god damned if I planted him a 15 cent tree. Not to mention I'll be god damned if I worked my ass off for a measly $200.
While I somewhat agree with your frustration, keep in mind that the "client" often has no idea what the tree price is. And, in many cases, it's not really their business to know. It's the company that you are working for, and is making money off of your hard work, that bid what they bid and pays what they pay. Often these are people who could care less about what you are making, as long as they are making what they want to make. I think you should direct your frustrations more towards them than the "client". It's really hard for good contractors to obtain work and pay well as long as people keep working for low prices, regardless of how much you think you are "slamming" it to the man. You are perpetuating the situation by increasing your low quality production to compensate for low prices. Next time just move on if you can.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Scooter » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:54 pm

Next time just move on if you can.
The biggest strength that planters have is the ability to vote with their feet.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Coaster » Fri Oct 28, 2011 4:02 pm

In order to "vote with your feet" it is important to have as much information as possible about the candidates you are voting for. As we all get more used to using social networking to trade information, we'll be able to make more informed decisions as to whether there are better alternatives out there. That's where Replant is providing such a valuable service. As we post more information here about who is doing well by planters and who is not, those that are not can be made to pay the price for substandard prices and/or conditions.

I know that there is a disincentive to leak info about where the good money is because we might feel that we're letting the cat out of the bag and inviting the crowd into our little piece of heaven. It's not as important to sing the praises of those who are paying well as it is to make sure those that are not become aware that their actions will become known to all. Times have changed enough that a contractor shouldn't be allowed to keep their dirty little secrets inside their cloistered little worlds. If you're on a bad job, let everyone know. Contractors will soon realize that they can't afford to accept work at low prices because word will get out and their crew will leave. Encourage all of your coworkers to peruse and use Replant.

Simply scanning the 2012 bid result thread will show you where the really low prices are - at least in the government contracts.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Coaster » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:24 pm

Here's the latest in the continuing saga of Khaira - hot off the presses today.

Treeplanting contractor charged with fraud, to appear in Provincial
Court November 2nd

(Vancouver) November 1, 2011. Crown counsel have laid four charges
under the Criminal Code against Khalid Bajwa, owner of Khaira
Enterprises Ltd., for using forged documents and for fraud over
$5000. The charges relate to treeplanting work that Mr. Bajwa
secured in 2010. Mr. Bajwa has been summoned to appear in
Provincial Court in Revelstoke on November 2, 2011.

On February 4, 2011, the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) ordered
Khaira to pay $236,800.52 to tree planters who worked for the
company from March to July, 2010 in various parts of BC. Mr. Bajwa
and Khaira unsuccessfully appealed the ESB’s decision, and in its
June 28, 2011 decision, the Employment Standards Tribunal instead
increased the amounts owing to 7 workers.

In October, 2011, the ESB paid the workers about 43% of the wages
that they are owed by Khaira, using Khaira bid deposits held by the
BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Mines from 2010. ESB is also
attempting to recover the remaining pay owed to the workers. “We
appreciate that ESB continues to take proactive steps to see that
the workers are paid the wages they are owed,” says Ros Salvador,
a lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre who is
representing more than 25 former Khaira workers. “We will be
following the criminal proceedings closely”.

The federal government has spent more than a year investigating
Khaira, but has yet to provide employment insurance to many
workers, choosing instead to rely on Khaira’s drastically
underreported hours to deny the workers EI benefits they are
entitled to.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:34 pm

Greg wrote: I have always wondered why these same accountants and administrative foresters do not have the foresight OR eventual hindsight to acknowledge that these jobs, where the "lowest price is the law", eventually need to get re-worked anyway.

... Too many times I have fill-planted blocks that have obviously been planted by contractors who have offered the 'lowest price'. Does this not go into the equation for these administrators? Keep going with the lowest price, lowest quality work and you are going to find yourself re-working more and more jobs. Pay the price to get the job done once...
I've worked under the lowball system years ago, and found exactly what Greg mentioned. During those years, I noticed that the company was replanting up to 25% of our plantations - mostly due to sloppy initial planting.

However, since I took charge of our reforestation program about 15 years ago, my goal was to eliminate replants. Not only are replants costly in terms of the actual replanting, but it also has a negative impact on a company's AAC (annual allowable cut), it could lead to higher brushing costs, and may have a negative impact on the achievement of the company's free growing obligations. When one factors in all of the above, it's easy to convince the financial guys of the benefits of paying a bit more now with the expectation that some of the other costs will be eliminated - thus saving money in the long run.

Of course this will only work if the contractor you are working with believes in what you are doing, and in return will be awarded with future contracts.

Since I've adopted this philosphy, I've noticed that the amount of area requiring fill planting has dropped to basically nothing, the amount of area requiring brushing has dramatically decreased, and we are able to declare free growing a few years earlier thus reducing the company's silviculture liability (which is huge).

Although my planting budget has increased over the years, my overall reforestation budget has dropped due to reduced brushing and other costs. In my mind this is a win-win situation.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Mike » Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:30 am

When one factors in all of the above, it's easy to convince the financial guys of the benefits of paying a bit more now with the expectation that some of the other costs will be eliminated - thus saving money in the long run.
Or, you could spend the exact same with the low-baller contracter and just enforce specs that makes it impossible for planters to make money!
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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by newforest » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:37 pm

Mike wrote:
just enforce specs
and that's what it's all about. the hokey-pokey? no. just whether timber co. / gov't employees actually do their jobs. most planting goes on with specs that would result in a quality stand.....if the specs were actually met, and anyone did anything about that, etc., and it was all up-front, transparent, and above-board for everyone from the TMO CEO to the contracting person in the office to the field person to the contractor to the actual tree-planter. instead too many techs think checking tree-planting is the shit work and they blow off their job, and the low-ball sails right through....

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Thu Nov 17, 2011 11:37 am

Mike wrote: Or, you could spend the exact same with the low-baller contracter and just enforce specs that makes it impossible for planters to make money!
Been there, done that. It doesn't really work for me (too many headaches). I'd rather spend a few extra $$ and be comfortable that the work will be done right the first time.

I learned early on in my career that the saying "You get what you pay for" is actually quite true...

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Mike » Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:07 pm

You should let BCTS know that, they seem to sometimes have trouble with the idea.
All of my company reviews and experience (The Planting Company, Windfirm, ELF, Folklore, Dynamic, Timberline, Eric Boyd, Wagner, Little Smokey, Leader, plus my lists for summer work and coastal) can be found at the start of the Folklore review due to URL and character limits.

Folklore, 2011: http://tinyurl.com/anl6mkd


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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:16 pm

Mwaaaah hahahaha...that's like making counterfeit zellers coupons

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Tnalp » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:54 pm

I sometimes get fed up with all these courses and tickets and money grabs... TDGATVWHMISH2SBCFALLEREMSOFAWCBBCSAFEWDTAS100 = $ 5000 ENOUGH ALREADY!!

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Rainman » Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:38 am

I understand where you are coming from Tnalp. Especially if you are paying out of pocket. Unless you are paid extra by the company you are working for, it is a burden on the employee.

From a management point of view, it's a hassle too. Paperwork, and more paperwork. But there hasn't been a course that our crew has done that didn't have it's value. In the quest to operate as safely as possible, having a highly trained crew is paramount. The thing is that for courses that take a day (or more) the company is the one, in my mind, that needs to carry the costs. That's the hardest part. Putting the entire crew through S-100 or a similar course is costly. Not only does the course itself need to be paid for, but the crew needs to be put up in accommodation and the crew needs to be paid for the time spent doing the course. Every other industry pays it's workers to do courses that the industry requires. Otherwise, the wage of the worker goes up the more "tickets" they hold. Since in planting, "Joe S-100" gets the same tree price as "Bob No-ticket", the course and time taken to do the course needs to be paid for by the company.

These courses are rarely factored into the bidding because it would be a dis-advantage to the companies who factor these extra costs in. This is where the licensees who are requiring the certifications should work with the contractors to find solutions. It is presently a difficult situation, because every licensee has different interpretations of the requirements and how they expect contractors to deal with the situation. While one place may require 1 person to have S-100 per crew, another may want all, and some do not expect S-100 at all.

All I am saying is that the safety courses and tickets are a good idea. Though seemingly tedious, they promote awareness and knowledge, both key to having a safe operation. My biggest gripe is seeing the onus and cost passed on to the employees.

If there was a level playing field, and the bidders who factor in the full costs of safety into their bids were not put at a disadvantage compared to the contractors who skirt around the subject, then I am all for better (and more) training courses. The present system is flawed in that it advantages the companies who cut corners, shirk, put off, and, as in the Khaira case, falsify the documentation.

Safety is the ultimate goal and no effort or expense should get in the way of it, within reason.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:14 am

Rainman wrote: ...
These courses are rarely factored into the bidding because it would be a dis-advantage to the companies who factor these extra costs in. This is where the licensees who are requiring the certifications should work with the contractors to find solutions. It is presently a difficult situation, because every licensee has different interpretations of the requirements and how they expect contractors to deal with the situation. While one place may require 1 person to have S-100 per crew, another may want all, and some do not expect S-100 at all.

Safety is the ultimate goal and no effort or expense should get in the way of it, within reason.
When I'm asking a contractor to do work for me I'll let him know upfront (before he bids) what I expect in terms of safety and other training requirements. I'll leave it up to the contractor to figure out how he will obtain that training and whether or not it's reflected in his bid price.

It's true that each licencee will have different safety expectations, so it's important for the contractor to be clear at the start what those expectations are and to plan accordingly.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by kootenaywrx » Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:41 am


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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:13 am


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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Scooter » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:44 pm

It is interesting to see that even within the WSCA, it appeared (from my limited point of view) that many ideas were being thrown around, but there was no clear consensus on how to best improve the industry. The WSCA, as pointed out, was alluded to in the Harris Report, yet the report failed to point out that Khaira was not a member of the WSCA. Unfortunate.

What options are out there? There was a discussion about the situation at the Conference, which John Betts moderated:




So there was talk about increased worker training. There was talk about WSCA members volunteering to commit to a code of ethics regarding Employment Standards and Safety and other issues. There was talk about external organizations being used to assist in enforcing compliance of basic provincial regulations by WSCA members. There was talk about a concept of WSCA members adhering to a code of conduct voluntarily as a selling point of their services to licensees versus the opposite approach of forcing organizations to follow defined standards. In short, there were a lot of ideas thrown about. Additional ideas/options will probably present themselves as time passes.

I feel that this is a topic upon which WSCA members did not (at the time) have any clear sense of agreement. Understandable, considering the dynamics and complexities of the various issues involved.

To clarify, I'm throwing this out here so that some planters who are also curious about what might happen post-Khaira will know that the topic is an important one within the WSCA. However, I would also caution that despite any discussion here on Replant which follows this post, ultimately, we have to remember that the WSCA is a contractors' association and they have to decide what to do among themselves. Remember that none of the ideas brought up in that discussion were more than hypothetical. It was simply a forum to start collectively thinking about what option might exist. However, in time, the discussions that they had might eventually result in certification or procedural changes that many key operators in the industry would adapt, which could improve the silviculture industry in the long run.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:09 pm

Would being a member of BC Forest Safety Council help in this situation. I know many licencees (including the one I work for) insist that all contractors who want to work for us must be registered in good standing with the BCFSC. I'm not saying that this is the end all, but it could be another screening tool to help weed out unscrupulous contractors.

Of course this is dependant on licencess and I'm not sure if BCTS has this as part of their contractor hiring policy.

Of course, word of mouth is also a very good tool.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:44 pm

The audits used by the BCFSC do not examine employment standards or collective bargaining agreements. Originally, the 1.0 audits had a section that looked at compliance with such matters. However, this was removed in the new audit for multiple reasons. Of reasons that I know, it was very difficult to obtain the information necessary to confirm compliance within the scope of an audit (remember both documentation and interviews apply). There were also privacy issues with request of payroll records, and auditors are not seen in the same light as ESB officers when it comes to handling such information. Of reasons that I cannot confirm but suspect, is that there were some in the industry that were opposed to the inclusion of such matters in the audit. This may be due to their self-interest as those that must follow labour codes and regulations, but it may also be rooted in the belief that the audit is intended to measure one thing (H&S program compliance) and it should focus on that alone.

Those supporting inlcusion of labour regs in the audit beleive there is a direct link between labour reg compliance (ensuring workers are not over-stressed, over-worked, and disgruntled) and safety in the workplace due to the impact that practices in this area can have on worker attitudes and their sheer ability to perform and be alert in the workplace.

So, for now the BCFSC does not offer a viable linkage for furthering labour regulations compliance unless it is directly linked to just safety (which they defintiely have a role to play in improving)

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:13 pm

You're probably correct in that assumption. It's just too bad organizations - especially govermental, can't "officially" communicate with each other outside of their own jurisdictions, otherwise some or many of these problems may disappear.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Rainman » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:07 am


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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by newb » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:44 am

“We know that the province new about Khaira enterprises. They had received complaints about the company, about the way that they treated employees.

But even so, they kept winning contracts because they were always the lowest bidder” - CBC News

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Scooter » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:35 pm

Starting last week, there has been national coverage (on CBC) of today's Human Rights Tribunal hearing regarding representative complaints from former Khaira employees that they were discriminated on the basis of race and ethnic origin at the hands of their employers. This is allegedly going to be a five week hearing.

Ironically, perhaps, WorkSafeBC will launch its bullying and harassment guidelines tomorrow in Vancouver.

For the record the Employment Standards Branch has ceased for the time being its collection activities to obtain the balance owed on the $260,000 it ruled that the workers were owed. They have found no more assets or income to recover from the Khaira side.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Pebbles » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:56 am

jdtesluk wrote:However, it took over 2 years to obtain it, and they remain without the rest of their earnings, and carry the mental and emotional damage that accompanied the exploitation outlined in the articles AND the horror of working in a camp (Revelstoke) where a worker DIED.
Article about the guy who died: http://www.revelstoketimesreview.com/ne ... 49535.html

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:57 am

It is my understanding that there was 12?,000$ withheld by BCTS on the Khaira contracts. Upon their failure to appeal the ESB case against them, that money was forfeit to the workers, and paid out. The workers were represented legally by the Public Interest Advisory Council, which extracted no fee for their services (they are funded by the Law Society and donations I believe). Thus, the workers, at least monetarily, fared nearly as well in the legal proceedings as they would have with hired lawyers, who would likely demand somewhere in the 30-40% range for such a case. In total, I believe they have received roughly half of their monies. However, it took over 2 years to obtain it, and they remain without the rest of their earnings, and carry the mental and emotional damage that accompanied the exploitation outlined in the articles AND the horror of working in a camp (Revelstoke) where a worker DIED.
There are a number of things company owners can do to shield their assets from these lawsuits. Examples may include signing your house over to a close relative's name, "creating" expenditures, and other sly manoeuvers.
Just a few details not outlined in the articles.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:09 pm

In case you thought this story was over
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/bri ... e15818705/ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/bri ... e15818705/

A very different tone of voice from the Government now that their documents have been exposed in an FOIPA request. They went from adamantly defending themselves and denying any responsibility in the year after the incident, to indicating the desire to apologize. Hmmmmm, funny how information changes their attitude. Also, a different Liberal Regime, and Clark may not run her cabinet the same way as Campbell did, which could allow people like Thomson to be a bit more forthcoming.

Interesting thing will be what the potential fallout will be. The bid-system is under more scrutiny than ever. Still, nobody in the industry is quite ready to throw MOF under the bus, because "we" still need to work together.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by Rage » Tue Dec 10, 2013 9:38 am

The BCTS bid system is tied to log costs, stumpage rates, and ultimately softwood lumber agreements. The bid system isn't going anywhere.
Advancing employment standards in the treeplanting industry will depend on increasing camp standards through legislation, and monitoring by contract managers.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by mwainwright » Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:27 pm

BCTS, in my view, is an organization that is far more concerned with justifying the expenditure of tax dollars and keeping bureaucrats employed than it is with properly managing our resources. dont be too surprised to learn that they dont really give a shit about the welfare of tree-planters. obviously, there are some good people employed by the ministry, who do good work, but from my experience there are far too many people there who are riding it out for a decent pension and really couldnt be more out of touch with what goes on in the forest.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by jdtesluk » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:30 pm

Your cynicism is well-warranted. However, I would hestitate before concluding that change is impossible. Already in BCTS there has been a shift (not necessarily the one we need) in that individual managers are terrifed of causing the next "Khaira". They are reaching for whatever tool they can to ensure that such an event does not get hung on them. The industry is working to provide them with something they can use that will serve their (BCTS) purpose of assuring compliance, while serving also the interests of the industry. There has been an Ombusdmans report (Forest Ombudsman). THis is not to be taken lightly. Ombudsman decisions carry weight (according to past actions, not legislated powers).

The outcomes of these hearings are significant, as they have clearly caught the attention of the MOF, and have put government liability directly in the spotlight, despite Pat Bell's best efforts to absolve himself and his MInistry from any responsibility. You are probably correct that "a" bid system is not going anywhere. But I would not be surprised to see something change in "the" bid system. The problem here has nothing to do with increasing camp standards through legislation though, it is a matter of effectively enforcing the existing ones, and the contracting parties doing their due diligence to ensure that appropriate laws and regulations are followed. If these things had happened, this news story would never have been.

Anyways, I might head down on Thursday or Friday to attend the hearings. It could be very interesting.

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Re: Khairi making news - another BCTS success story

Post by RPF » Wed Dec 11, 2013 5:01 pm

Quote from the Globe & Mail article:

"As the case winds down, Forests Minister Steve Thomson says he regrets his government’s role in failing to protect those workers. He hasn’t met with them but if he did, “I would apologize,” he said. “Clearly there was not the appropriate oversight.”

He said he is confident that the situation won’t be repeated. Work camps are now inspected, and other changes have been made to ensure better protection of itinerant workers." End quote

Come on - really? Camp Standards have been in place since the 1980's. As someone mentioned above and in the news article, it sounds like someone in BCTS or government didn't want to know what was really going on, so they "neglected" to carry out any camp inspections.

How, or what, will government do differently to ensure this doesn't happen again? It may improve in the short term (as these things tend to do when it's fresh in everyone's mind), but long term enforcement? - I have my doubts. I hope the government will prove me wrong, but I'll bet a year's salary that within five years we will see another Khaira situation.

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