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African tree planters win $700K over ‘slave-like’ discrimination
African tree planters win $700K over 'slave-like' discrimination

African tree planters win $700K over ‘slave-like’ discrimination

A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a Surrey-based tree planting company to pay more than $600,000 in compensation to 55 African workers it discriminated against at camps in the Golden-Revelstoke area in 2010.

Khaira Enterprises ran camps in the B.C. Interior and abused and discriminated against African refugees working there, according to a ruling released Friday.

The company owners have been ordered to pay each affected worker $10,000 plus another $1,000 for each additional month they worked after the first one.

“Both [Bajwa and Sunny] have been found, in this decision, to have engaged in conduct which is discriminatory on a basis of race, colour and place of origin and on the basis of sex,” said Trerise’s ruling.

“I find therefore that the complaint is fully justified against Khaira, Bajwa and Sunny.”

Trerise ruled all the workers experienced some form of adverse treatment from their employers, including lack of payment, hours of work, poor camp condition and other issues.

“All of these circumstances, and particularly, the lack of payment and the consistent racial harassment satisfy me that the discriminatory actions of the respondents impacted the complainants significantly, causing them embarrassment, a degree of depression, frustration and loss of self esteem.”

The tree planters worked in a camp in Golden, in southeast B.C., in 2010, until it was shut down by the provincial Ministry of Forests, when the planters complained to ministry staff that they hadn’t had anything to eat for two days.


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