The Operating Engineers are looking to develop a partnership with First Nations communities across Canada.
IUOE Canadian director Jim Murphy and Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher, who is president of the IUOE Canadian conference, will be meeting with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to discuss training opportunities.
The two labour leaders will attempt to enter into a memorandum of understanding for a national strategy to deliver training to First Nations communities. Once a memorandum of understanding is signed, the IUOE will connect with the AFN Technical Working Group.
A resolution on the matter was passed at the 55th IUOE Canadian conference held recently in Nanaimo, B.C.
Business manager Gallagher had spoken on the issue in a speech at the conference, indicating that the time is right for a national memorandum of understanding.
He said Aboriginals in Canada face challenges and unions need to be part of the solution.
“They’re not the only solution, in fairness, but they are definitely part of the solution if we engage them and can convince them that the union way is the way go to.”
He noted that Canada’s construction industry will need 221,000 workers between now and 2021, and 600,000 Aboriginal youth will be coming into the labour force by the same time.
According to the resolution, many Operating Engineers are reaching retirement age and there is a need to meet the increasing demand for heavy equipment and crane operators.
The resolution states that one option is to recruit, retain and advance new apprentices from First Nations communities, rather than bring in recruits via the temporary foreign worker recruitment process.