Wages must go up in the next few years to retain workers
Dave Robinson is no rookie tree planter. After a steady campaign planting nearly 300,000 trees across B.C., Alberta and Quebec this year, the veteran planter says he earned about $30,000 for 95 days of work. “I like working in the field, and I like generating wealth,” said Robinson when asked why he keeps returning to what’s often described as a gruelling job. But after five years in the industry, Robinson admits he’s had his highs and lows. Last year, he got into a labour dispute with an employer after his piece work wages worked out to be below B.C.’s minimum wage. “My gross pay was $355 for 55 hours of work,” he said, noting that he did eventually get paid the difference after working with labour regulators to resolve the dispute. … In recent years, many tree planters in B.C. have reported earnings below minimum wage, despite the industry having a reputation of high earnings and hard work.