Westward Independent

San Group Scandal: Migrant Workers Claim Inhumane Treatment Amidst Legal Battle

by Westward Independent
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The San Group, based in Port Alberni, is embroiled in a controversy over the treatment of migrant workers.

Reports surfaced that approximately 15 workers, under contract with the San Group, were living in substandard conditions in a trailer until they were moved out by the Salvation Army’s anti-human trafficking unit on June 29. The company has denied allegations of human trafficking and poor living conditions, blaming the workers for trying to break their Temporary Foreign Workers Visas to stay in Canada.

Bob Bortolin, a senior compliance officer with the San Group, dismissed the allegations as a fabrication and described the situation as a labor dispute that has escalated. He stated, “We paid for overtime, we paid for statutory holidays, so that’s why it hurts right now to have these accusations put forward to us.” However, Kim Tran, an advocate for the workers, described their living conditions as deplorable, claiming they were “not treated right by the company” and lived in a “rotten trailer” with inadequate facilities.

Further complicating the matter, the San Group has announced the arrival of nine new Vietnamese Temporary Foreign Workers but assured they will not stay in the controversial trailer. The company is also conducting its own investigation to determine if a third party misled the workers about their employment conditions.

Amidst this turmoil, the San Group is planning to sue the City of Port Alberni, alleging damage to its reputation and unfair treatment during a surprise inspection, which the company claims was unauthorized and illegal. Surveillance videos released by the San Group purportedly show the inspection, adding another layer of complexity to this ongoing issue.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions and MP Gord Johns have acknowledged the situation, with Johns stating his office is doing everything possible to assist and has alerted the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship about the complaints.

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