Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Local union objects to foreign labour on hospital site

  • Print

A local union says an Edmonton-based contractor is importing foreign labour to do concrete work on the new $239-million Women's Hospital while giving local trades the cold shoulder.

The Construction & Specialized Workers' Union Local 1258 charges that Pagnotta Industries Inc., a subcontractor on the government-funded project, has so far hired mainly people from outside the province. The union says that of the 22 workers now on-site, only six are local and an estimated 10 to 12 are from Ireland.

Victor DaSilva, the union's business manager, has written to Premier Greg Selinger and Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard to complain that public money is flowing to offshore labour when 120 of his members are out of work.

"This is a very time-sensitive situation due to the fact that Manitobans continue to be on the unemployment line and taxpayers' money is flowing overseas," he wrote.

DaSilva also wonders how Alex Pagnotta, the company's owner and general manager, could have obtained a labour market opinion (LMO), required to import temporary workers, that there were insufficient qualified workers here when so many of his members are out of a job.

He said months before the LMO was obtained, he tried repeatedly to contact the company to inform it of the local labour supply. He said Pagnotta's human resources director was abusive to him on the phone.

He said the company has a reputation for being anti-union and has even advised local workers applying for work at the Health Sciences Centre site to badmouth the union so they can get hired.

Pagnotta denied he's anti-union. He said he the firm has hired "numerous guys locally," although he acknowledged "seven or eight" of the 20 to 22 people now on-site are from Ireland.

"We're an open-shop contractor... We're not opposed to hiring any of their members," he said, "but we're not affiliated with the unions at this time."

DaSilva worried that many more foreign workers will be hired as construction ramps up. The company will eventually have 50 to 60 workers on site. Pagnotta Industries is responsible for the concrete work. EllisDon Corp. is the supervising contractor.

Pagnotta denied he's saving money by hiring workers from Ireland. He said the upfront costs alone are $5,000 to $6,000 per person and he's paying them "as good as, if not higher, than what we would be paying locally."

The Women's Hospital will rise at the corner of William Avenue and Sherbrook Street. The Selinger government says the facility will offer state-of-the-art specialty newborn care. The 300,000-square-foot structure will also include a women's surgical centre and in-patient gynecological unit.

A government spokesman said late Monday the province will look into the union's complaint. "We expect any contractor or subcontractor working on the Women's Hospital to adhere to all relevant laws and regulations and we will explore these reports further," he said in an email.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 5, 2013 A5


Updated on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 10:54 AM CST: corrects typo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Officials detail fatal house fire in Kane, MB

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the decision by the Criminal Conviction Review Board to extend freedoms to Vince Li?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google