A crew of forestry workers from Nemaska is wondering why they haven’t been paid for three months after they helped clear brush from 10 hectares of Ted Moses’ trapline for the new EM-1 hydroelectric project.
Neil Wapachee, the crew leader for 14 Nemaska “slashers,” says the workers keep getting the run around by Field Coordinator Joe Moses – the brother of the former Grand Chief – long after the job has been completed.
Moses’ family company Namao had won the contract from the Société de l’energie de la Baie James (SEBJ) to clear the way for the EM-1 reservoir. He in turn hired the 14 men from Nemaska to “cut, pile and burn the wood.” He also hired workers from Mistissini, who, according to Wapachee, have been paid.
Wapachee’s crew are owed $32,000 for the work they did clearing 10 hectares at $3,200 per hectare.
The conflict is apparently over the method they were to be paid. Instead of giving the workers cheques, SEBJ insisted on getting specimens of their personal cheques in order to directly deposit the funds into their accounts.
“We’re still waiting for cheque specimens from these guys,” Moses told the Nation. “Also, the foreman hasn’t given us the right information, as far as what kind of work they’ve done. We asked them if they want to open an account at EM-1, they never did.”
Wapachee begs to differ. “We faxed the cheques at least four times, I don’t know what he’s talking about,” he said. “I talked to Joe and he said he never received them. Something’s not right. How many times do I have to fax it? Sometimes he says he’s too busy doing other work.”
“It’s not my problem if they don’t get paid,” Moses
retorted. “We do it with the Caisse Populaire and we need their information. We paid the ones that gave their information. All they have to do is send that little thing, that cheque specimen.”
Wapachee also questioned why a specimen was needed since $500 deposited into each worker’s account the first week they started. His money, Wapachee added, was deposited into a CIBC account, not one at a Caisse Populaire.
“What’s the real deal here?” asked Wapachee, who said he would be opening a Caisse Populaire account so that Moses wouldn’t have an excuse.
“I’ll be more than happy to send them their cheque,” an accommodating Joe Moses told the Nation. “Tell them to get their specimens to me by four and I’ll send the cheque out.” Moses also claimed that incomplete time sheets, shorter hours worked and an overall lack of organization by the workers has slowed the process down.
“Some guys worked four hours, some 10, some 7 and they were supposed to all work the same amount of time,” he said. “They delayed the contract and it was difficult for us. Some guys were putting in seven hours when they were supposed to work 10.”