Khaira tree planters appear before tribunal

Tree planters who were allegedly abused at a camp near Golden are appearing before the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

Former tree planters working for the a Surrey-based company will have their voices heard.

Starting on Monday, September 30, the BC Human Rights Tribunal will hear about the shocking human rights abuses experienced by tree planters employed by Khaira Enterprises Ltd., more than three years after the company’s tree planting camp near Golden was shut down by authorities.

The complainants, who are primarily immigrants and refugees of African origin, will testify that the owners of Khaira Enterprises subjected them to extreme acts of racism and sexism; from verbal insults to inhuman working and living conditions.

“We will argue that racism and discrimination were at the root of the horrific experiences that they endured,” said Eugene Kung, counsel for 50 Khaira tree planters who have brought the complaint. “The Human Rights Tribunal hearing will address that discrimination directly.”

The BC Employment Standards Branch previously awarded the workers about $260,000 in unpaid wages, but the workers have received less than half the amount owing.

“The workers will ask the Tribunal to share their view that discrimination has no place in British Columbia,” said Kung.