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History repeats itself too often

Jesse Gentes, Comox Valley Echo, January 06, 2012

I'd like to share a little analysis of mine of the Underground Mining Program recently announced by North Island College and created through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market initiative by the joint workings of the Federal Conservatives and the B.C Liberals. The resource extraction industry particularly Compliance Coal on a local level - stand to benefit from the training of entry level employees from such a program.

The development of this course obviously exposes the state's intentions clearly as others have pointed out. They are determined to push this project through.

One thing to note of interest is a basic course layout complete with contact information displayed on an official looking NIC letterhead is available for viewing on the Compliance website including duration of the course. However even though the NIC website does contain the announcement of recent provincial funding (including the mention of the underground mining program along with other skills programs) it does not include this same course layout and contact information or any promotion of the underground mining program as does the Compliance website. Strange, no?

What I found particularly interesting is the requirements to apply for the course. The course itself is targeted toward lower income people with little or no education or training. To quote from the course layout regarding eligibility as displayed on the Compliance website:

The Employment Skills Access program is designed to assist unemployed, or low skilled individuals gain employment. All tuition and books are included for participants that meet the eligibility criteria of the ESA program which are that the person:

- Is unemployed - Cannot be on EI or attached to EI in the past three years

- Is low skilled and employed - Has not completed high school - Has completed high school but does not have any post-secondary education

To many this may appear as a benevolent means by the state for the unemployed, under-employed and unskilled lower class to access job training. However in reality this is a form of corporate welfare where companies like Compliance Coal can train their workforce using taxpayer's money rather than paying for training of their workers themselves. Don't forget at the public meetings when asked about transporting coal overland to Pt. Alberni, Compliance CEO John Tapics was quoted as saying any road or rail infrastructure improvements would have to be paid for by the providers of that system (IE; roads & highways = the taxpayer)

I am not stating here that people of lower income or what some classify as having 'low skill levels' don't deserve access to public resources that improve one's standard of living. On the contrary. All the public money that governments squander on vanities such as the Olympics and other fiascoes should be invested in the social programs that these funds were stolen from in the first place. Ironic isn't it that these same agents of private thievery from public coffers are now so concerned over the economic welfare of the less privileged?

Tuition for the program is covered by state funding. In other words the corporate elites and the politicians that work for them are making it as easy as possible for people of the expendable lower classes to be their willing wage slaves. Who else can they force through economic apartheid to enter one of the most dangerous and health hazardous occupations in the world? I wonder if there will be mandatory applicants to the program for welfare recipients lest the threat of assistance being cut off? Either way black lung and the risk of being buried alive hardly seem worth the $23.66/hour average wage (According to a 2007 survey of Canadian mine worker wages) a Canadian underground coal miner makes or $49,212.80 per year before taxes.

In that same survey which compares U.S. mine workers wages to Canadian mine workers wages a labourer makes on average $21.52/hour in a Canadian underground coal mine. The highest paid position for a Canadian worker is that of electrician at $27.57/ hour. Take in to consideration that a mine requires far less electricians than it does miners and labourers and the fact that the NIC mining program is for entry level positions only (IE; the least paid and dirtiest).

Granted these are not bad wages if the work involved doesn't pose serious threats to one's health in some of the worst working conditions imaginable. Benefits and incentives would make the job more enticing, however 'incentives' may mean pushing oneself harder to make the extra money, thus raising the risk of injury to oneself or others.

Hopefully this helps illustrate the reality of the $100,000 salary Compliance CEO John Tapics is using to seduce people in to supporting the 'Raven' mine.

2007 survey site, http: // issues/0810/CanadianUSMinersPay.pdf

Compare the above wages with the average salary of a junior mining company CEO of $297,000 with a bonus of $387,000 and for a chairman of a major mining company an average salary of $1.1 million. In addition, this same average chairman received a bonus of $805K, was granted securities options worth $750K, shares worth $1.2 million, and "other compensation" worth $588K.-according to the 2007 Canadian Mine Salaries,Wages and Benefits survey who's position poses none of the risks to life and health like of those working underground.

From Global Infomine site, http: // canadian.mining.wages.aspx

As a tactic Compliance and the politicians that support them are using the 'divide and conquer' approach in an attempt to split the community between those who want jobs and those who want to protect an existing way of life and our local and global ecology. They're trying to create the interest in these jobs as a leverage to discredit the mass opposition to the proposed 'Raven' mine.

Just like Robert Dunsmuir before them, the contemporary coal baron seeks to exploit the earth, the poor and lower class. History repeats itself too often.

Jesse Gentes

© Comox Valley Echo 2012