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.