June 09, 2016

Alberta’s international embarrassment: Did Notley try to pay South African firefighters slave wages?

Sheila Gunn ReidRebel Commentator

Remember the South African firefighters who came to help fight the Fort McMurray wildfires? Their joyful dance in the Edmonton International Airport after their exhausting transcontinental journey became a viral video about a week ago.

Things went bad for those South Africans as soon as they got here. Now they're involved in a work stoppage because of a pay dispute.

The Alberta Government made a deal with the South African Government for the firefighter’s services. The firefighters were contracted for $50 per day. But they are only being paid a $15 per day allowance while they are here, with the firefighters receiving the balance of $35 per day up to 6 months after they get home. That might be a good wage in South Africa but here in Alberta, $15 per day as an allowance is hardly enough to buy a pack of smokes.

The going rate for wildfire firefighters is $24 per hour. These South Africans were fighting the same fire alongside other men and women making in 45 minutes what they would earn in a whole day. Those are slave wages. The NDP contracted to pay these foreign friends slave wages. How gross is that?

At the time, we searched for reasons why the Alberta government declined American, Russian and Israeli offers to help fight the Fort Mac fires. Now we know why. Rachel Notley didn’t want to pay those people a respectable Alberta wage, comparable to what they receive at home.

Instead Notley opted for cheaper labour, from places like Mexico and South Africa. She undercut the local workforce with cheap foreign labour. If this were Jim Prentice rather than Rachel Notley abusing the wage rates of people from the developing world, the cries of racism from the left would be deafening. I can hear it now, “That’s raaaaaacist!”

But here is where the hypocrisy goes right off the charts.

The social justice goons in the Alberta Government are raising the minimum wage in Alberta to $15 per hour. They want private companies to pay inflated wages outside of what the current labour market sets because the NDP feel everyone should have a “living wage” regardless of their skill set. But Notley couldn’t do the same when the market rate for firefighters is around $24 bucks an hour. Rachel Notley chose to pay the South Africans $15 per day and hoped they’d never find out. But they did. Socialism is only for the people, it’s never really for the socialists, is it?

Imagine if your local gas station tried a version of Rachel’s little scheme, bringing in cheap labour to deliver full service at the pumps? You better believe Rachel Notley would put a stop to that, decrying the capitalist greed of the business man.

Our government has an obligation to make sure our South African friends were treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. Instead they were paid like slaves.

What an international embarrassment.

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commented 2016-06-11 19:10:19 -0400
I just want to say thank you to those who commented on what I wrote and corrected me on my 10.000 unemployed, I missed a zero when I became so upset writing it. I also wasn’t too educated on the wildfire course, thank you. Over this time I was able to do a little more reading and I have a change in opinion, but only about Notley. I thought I would agree with her FOR ONCE (and was almost horrified that in all this time I found SOMETHING to agree with her about.. of course I was wrong).. I thought she was standing firm in holding them to the agreement, but now I see she’s using it to try to get herself out of the mess I now understand SHE helped make – by paying them much more than they should have been paid. It is still my opinion that what they stated in the Globe and mail was the agreement, and when they got to the fire and spoke to firefighters and learned what they were making, they tried to put the squeeze on Albertans. I was proud thinking we were not going to be rolled for more money, but alas.. we are.
I guess NOTHING they said about why they were coming, the benefits of coming the experience, the money that was 10x more than they made at home, etc.. etc.. was true if now everything about it was so bad for them. I stand by my first statement WE SHOULD/COULD OF HIRED ALBERTANS.
commented 2016-06-11 17:43:57 -0400
Sounds like the Notley Apartheid government to me!
commented 2016-06-11 17:03:41 -0400
David Simpson suggested:
“I think the rebelmedia , missed an opportunity with this story. Dont we already have a huge supply of unemployed Indians in Canada already pay to lay around all day , shouldnt the taxpayer get some return on this black hole called Indian Affairs?”

Gasp and double gasp! Expect them to work or contribute to their upkeep? Delusional! Everyone knows aboriginals have an unalienable right to be supported by taxpayers and make more unrealistic demands such as their “Chiefs” live the high life at our expense while their communities live in squalor! Look no further than Attiswapiskat! Besides, EL BOW needs their votes to maintain power!
commented 2016-06-11 13:26:51 -0400
Jay Lee Notley’s government did the contract negotiations, unless I am mistaken, and therefore she would have known what the wages would be. I believe our government paid for their airfare and stipend, although I’m unclear if, in the contract, these amounts are included as part of the wage or extras. Regardless, for her to denounce the low wages now is all for show, in my opinion. The whole fire fiasco falls on her.
commented 2016-06-11 12:55:51 -0400
Jay Lee YOU MUST BE ONE OF THE TOLERANT KIND NDP TYPE WE KEEP HEARING ABOUT, Have your temper tantrum on the CBC site be plenty just like you there,
commented 2016-06-11 12:54:27 -0400
Jay Lee Notley has everything to do with it. SAME THING AS FLYING IN ALL HER CRONYS FROM ALL ACROSS CANADA TO WORK FOR HER IN ALBERTA. She is the most pathetic leader ever. Her time is limited to one term, Just waiting for the next BOZO eruption from her and her NDP. YOU KNOW JAY LIKE THE FEAR MONGERING COMMENT ABOUT THE FIRE IN FORT MAC. Remember that one,
commented 2016-06-11 12:45:35 -0400
LOL @ Jay Lee. Why does the left always come from a place of hate when they get caught being hypocrites and then they use blatant lies to cover up their immoral actions. If it was forty years of Conservative incompetence that came all this way, then why does it fall apart under the NDP? Because it has nothing to do with the past. At least the Conservatives could keep it together for forty years, the NDP could not even manage six months. What a joke.
commented 2016-06-11 11:54:05 -0400
The Alberta NDP are disgusting people.
commented 2016-06-11 02:58:16 -0400
Not a peep from the MSM? No leftist bias eh? None of the normal average stupid people know about this
commented 2016-06-10 23:24:02 -0400
I think the rebelmedia , missed an opportunity with this story. Dont we already have a huge supply of unemployed Indians in Canada already pay to lay around all day , shouldnt the taxpayer get some return on this black hole called Indian Affairs?
commented 2016-06-10 23:11:49 -0400
James Scott, defeating Racheal Notley and her NDP is only wishful thinking. We must unite the right as one voting bloc to defeat them. We don’t have much time.
commented 2016-06-10 23:10:06 -0400
Shame on Rachael! She is such a cheap bastard when it comes to paying wages for foreign workers doing dangerous jobs. $50 per day is a big embarrassment to Alberta.
commented 2016-06-10 15:31:04 -0400
I can almost bet that those South African “fire fighters”, eager and naive, came to Fort McMurray at the behest of their own government, which corruptly would have figured out beforehand that a major portion of their $50/per day wage paid by the Alberta government could be siphoned off into their own coffers. Those South Africans who came here will NEVER receive their proper promised payment, whether they had received (on paper) $24/hr. or not.
commented 2016-06-10 12:57:29 -0400
Rachel and her cabal of loons know the way to Venezuela . . .
NDP = unemployment, poverty and corruption . . .
commented 2016-06-10 10:08:57 -0400
i absolutely think the fire was intentionally set and the "CATCHERS MITT " NEEDS TO OWN THIS WHOLE MESS !!!!!!!
commented 2016-06-10 08:55:18 -0400
So typical of leftist bastards! Screw everyone except their “entitled” class!
commented 2016-06-10 07:53:30 -0400
heavy rain in fort mac now lots of it, Up here working still one of the lucky few, Send them home mother nature has stepped up and helped finally. Just make sure they all get on the plane, enough born and raised Albertans out of work, we do not need more.
commented 2016-06-10 01:44:01 -0400
Just under three years now.
God, let Albertan voters not make the same mistake twice.
This Premier and her team have to go.
commented 2016-06-10 01:36:09 -0400
Oh dear… this does sound like a bit of a balls-up, doesn’t it?
commented 2016-06-10 00:07:28 -0400
Daryl – I too believe the fire was deliberately set. And the lack of response by the Notley government and Trudeau, says it all. They wanted Fort Mac to burn, and to destroy the oilsands. She’s pathetic and she put a lot of people’s lives in danger. She’s a union thug, and she exposes her hatred for the people who are paying for her keep, on a daily basis. She needs to step down, instead she’s ramping up the destruction, because this is the plan that the UN has given to all the Marxists. Trudeau has sold Canada out, because he too hates Canadians, but wants our resources, to squander away on his family and friends. Canadians be damned! Just look at Wynnie, out here training Rachel how to destroy anything that matters in society. They’re all insane!
commented 2016-06-09 23:01:00 -0400
Well…. it must have been their expertise in fighting those devastating South Africa Boreal forest fires that convinced our lame government to spend our tax dollars to bring them here. Unlike the Saskatchewan Governments decision to use the Canadian Military we already pay for to fight their forest fires last year.
commented 2016-06-09 22:37:01 -0400
Very interesting comments by Lora Lazaroff and Daryl Herman. Notley has been at the centre of this mess from day one and it continues. One of the things that still bothers me is why didn’t she employ the military to help fight the fire after requesting the help. Surely there was some basic fire fighting functions or security duties that soldiers could have performed to help alleviate the effort of the professionals. Yet Notley decided they were not employable for whatever reason. I would be very interested to hear from the professionals who dealt with the fire but I’m sure they have to keep their mouth shut to retain their job, and I understand that.
commented 2016-06-09 21:59:22 -0400
Lora Lazaroff: Well said and explained.

This is not supposed to be about South African programs or volunteers, it is about Alberta.
This was not the time to have trainees come to Canada as part of an employment training program.
If this was a South African Govt program, they are as responsible as Notley.

Everyone was used in this scenario, Albertans and South Africans.
Notley used this opportunity to put the attention on herself and it looks like it backfired!
How embarrassing.
commented 2016-06-09 21:34:04 -0400
@ Lora Lazaroff commented 42 mins ago

Lora, I agree with you 150%!! …except there are more, way more than 10,000 unemployed oil patch workers – more like a 100,000! …and a correction to the fire-fighting skills training – that 2 day / 2 hr (online) Wildfire course has nothing to do with actual fire-fighting – it is a training course in the hierarchy of government command. I know – I am a Alberta Wildfire certified participant – that has actual forest & domestic fire-fighting training with much experience and as you, was most pissed off when a lot of Alberta certified fire-fighters were left on the sidelines for all those imported fighters. That being said – I do not blame the African fighters for being here – I blame that stupidly, willfully & arrogantly IGNORANT Nutley. …going around the province “playing” fire commissioner and I bet she couldn’t put a fire out in her kitchen sink!! The stupid skanky mouthpiece!
I would not be surprised 1 bit to find out the NDPiggers were complicit in those fire beginning in the 1st place! They were man-made fires!! – as were most of those set around Ft.St. John that burned into Alberta. I live here!
commented 2016-06-09 21:27:57 -0400
@lora Lazaroff…thank you for adding to the insight…This is the sort of thing that makes me appreciate theREBEL and it’s forum. Citizen journalism is a team effort.
commented 2016-06-09 21:02:46 -0400
So…once again the ignorance of regressive socialists comes front and centre. If they had any intelligence they would know that S/A is a Commonwealth country. They would also know that English is an official language of S/A because of this. They would know that international fire fighting is a highly skilled trade requiring education including English language skills. Most of all, if they had actually worked a day in their life in a labour situation, they would know that workers communicate with each other about wages and working conditions.

Socialists, the unintelligent regressives. Yet they are allowed to set the narrative even by the progressive right.
commented 2016-06-09 20:37:34 -0400
Sharing from my blog.
So the South African Firefighters who came to fight the Fort Mac fires are going home? They are mad b.c we won’t pay them the same as our other Firefighters – apparently that is unfair.
Well sadly I guess I have something to say about that… goodbye, good riddance.
When they came I wrote a blog about how frustrated and infuriated I was that desperate UNemployed Albertans/oil workers who ALREADY had H2S Alive, emerg response, etc.. training – were not being offered a cpl day training course and put to work so THEY can feed their families, pay another mortgage/rent payment and possible avoid losing their homes! But I’ll get back to that.
First I’d like everyone to remember what we were told when they came, I’ll just put it in point form as well as I can. Its important I use these quotes – these are taken from The Globe and Mail, the article they did the day the South Africans landed. If you want to read the article just go back in my blog to the story on it and click the link at the bottom.
Oh how fast things change when you try to put the squeeze on Canadians and we (for a change) don’t fall for it – I am surprised, but ‘we’ didn’t cave. Right on!
Here are some important quotes from the article the Globe and Mail published the day they landed – these are important to remember.
  • The South African government sees it as repaying a debt to the Canadian people for their support for the anti-apartheid struggle.the South African deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, recalled ‘As South Africans, we feel indebted to the Canadian people,….Remember that these are the people who stood on our side in our times of trouble. So today we are paying back.” …
    But it’s also a strategy for changing the lives of unemployed South African youths….
    *The jobless young men and women were recruited for a government-funded organization called Working on Fire…
    ,After a month in Canada, they will take home the equivalent of about $1,500 each. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s 10 times more than their normal monthly stipend in the training program. It will help many of the firefighters to get out of shacks and build new brick houses, get driver’s licenses or enter postsecondary education….
    To put them on a plane and send them to a foreign country fundamentally changes their lives.”….
    We were also told – ‘they were given a two-day course in financial management, to help them avoid making mistakes with their limited wages.’ SO they KNEW in Canadian terms their money would be ‘limited/not go far’, and they came anyway because as they also said ‘this is 10x what they make at home’!
    Another thing ppl don’t realize is the tax payers (us) also paid $2000 per person for travel here.. so thats $3500 per firefighter for the month. HOW FAR would that go to an UNemployed Albertan with no EI left and a family to feed/mortgage/gas/bills…???
    After all of that I would say the trip, seeing another country, culture.. AND all the superior training would in itself be worth a million dollars. when would they ever have had that kind of opportunity. Furthermore, they sure sang and danced and celebrated like they were awful happy about it when they got here. But then they actually HAD to DO THE WORK. I would imagine its a little harder than what they are used to?
    If you want to toss in these S.A’s were trained firefighters so they deserved the same pay as our firefighters, think again, here’s another quote ’
    In all her firefighting experience in the South African bush, she had never seen flames leaping across roads and climbing to the tops of tall pine trees… But on Sunday, after a 10-day boot camp by Canadian trainers she’s not afraid anymore, “They’ve trained us on what to expect’… ‘The Canadians taught us how to extinguish those tall fires with special hoses.”
    With a shortage of water and specialized equipment here, the South African firefighters often use “firebeaters” – wooden sticks with a leather pad attached – to beat out a bush fire. But at their boot camp this month, the South Africans learned new water-handling techniques for the Canadian fires’.
    SO, they WERE NOT TRAINED, unless trained with ‘firebeaters’ counts!
    They still had a training course, which I am sure was paid for, likely by US, their flights, hotels etc.. paid, and they took home TEN TIMES what they normally would have made – and as I said, the experience on top of that.
    I would say it would have been cheaper to give Albertans the bootcamp training course, and as I said ALL oil and gas workers are already trained in H2S/Safety etc.. and they would have had a lot better idea of what to expect.Whether its $1500, $3500.. or why not just pay unemployed desperate Alberta workers what the others make, but regardless, I bet men/women with kids to feed, EI gone, many would have happily taken the $15 an hr!
    So do I feel badly, NO, in my opinion THEY got greedy, they knew what they were getting, the deal was made…but THEN they tried to put the squeeze on us thinking we would be so embarrassed that those ‘nice Canadians’ would crumble and accept the shake down. I am SO IMPRESSED we didn’t cave, the fact is, this isn’t at all what they said. Its ‘repayment’? its ‘helping us b.c they feel indebted for all of our help during apartheid? Its great experience, the trip is life changing… the money is excellent? Where did that go so quickly?
    WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIRED IN THE FIRST PLACE, THERE WAS NO NEED FOR THEM TO COME. ITS YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF TAKING WORK FROM ALBERTANS!! Kind of makes you wonder if it really is a conspiracy and another example of the govs working overtime to destroy this province…doesn’t it?
    My blog was right, we should have hired ALBERTANS.
commented 2016-06-09 20:15:10 -0400
I’ve been slacking off for a few days but I see you are still working hard for us
This is a very important story to get out , yes can you imagine if the shoe was on the other foot
commented 2016-06-09 20:15:04 -0400
Outstanding job of turning over rocks and finding the real news …as usual Sheila….OK trolls who crap on theREBEL…what say you to this?
commented 2016-06-09 20:11:21 -0400
Fatal Nutley – do as I say, not as I do.