Chinese company denies it misappropriated foreign oil sands worker’s wages

Company claimed worker agreed to deductions from Alberta job’s wages to contribute to Chinese welfare and insurance funds
|employmentlawtoday.com|Last Updated: 07/15/2009

A Chinese foreign worker’s claim that two Chinese companies fraudulently removed money from his Canadian bank account in the name of Chinese social welfare funds is receiving support from an Alberta labour group and the Alberta government.

Huang Yungang was a temporary foreign worker on a project in the Alberta oil sands. He was employed by SSEC Canada, a subsidiary of Chinese company Sinopec Shanghai Engineering. Sinopec said Huang agreed to contribute part of the wages he earned while working on the project to social welfare and insurance funds in China when he began his employment in Alberta and he also granted an SSEC official the power to make transactions from his bank account for that purpose.

When Huang returned to China, he said Sinopec took $42,900 from his Fort McMurray, Alta., bank account — most of the money in the account — to pay itself and its agents in China. The Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) filed an action on behalf of Huang, claiming Sinopec fraudulently appropriated his wages.

The Alberta government, though not involved in the lawsuit, said Huang is one of 132 Chinese men who worked on the oil sands project who are owed a total of $3 million in wages. It plans to track down the workers in China and pay them their missing wages from a trust fund set up by Canadian Natural Resources, the owner of the oil sands project that is also owned by Sinopec.

Sinopec’s lawyers claim Huang has decided to drop the lawsuit, but CLAC has yet to determine if that’s the case. However, even if he has, it said it will continue to ensure Chinese companies doing business in Canada will follow Canadian laws.

“That won’t be the end of efforts by CLAC to make sure that any state-owned Chinese companies that want to do business in the oil sands does so while complying with Canadian laws and Canadian business practices,” Alex Pannu, a CLAC spokesman, told the Canadian Press.

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