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I am sorry to hear this.
What did the union do?
When you refer to the government what governmental branch do you mean?
What agreement did they sign that says they cannot work for anyone else?
What is their legal status in Canada, are they on temporary work permits or are they permanent residents?
First, they can get other job offers and apply for a new temporary work permit and, they can do so from within Canada. They simply cannot work under their current work permits for a new employer.
They can also file a complaint with the human rights commission. They are being treated this way because of their nationality or place of origin, and so this is unlawful discrimination.
Unfortunately, the legal aid clinic in Fort McMurray is no longer operating, but here is a link to the list of legal aid clinics in Alberta, perhaps one is not too far away from where these people live and perhaps they can get some free help there:
They can also seek assistance from the provincially elected member of parliament in there area. Even thought they are temporary foreign workers, they are entitled to protection.
Here is a link to the contact information for the Alberta Human Rights Commission:
I am sorry that they couldn't get any more help through legal aid.
If the Employment Standards Branch will not help and the Human Rights Commission will not help then there is no governmental branch. The RCMP deal with criminal offences and will say that this is a civil matter.
I am sorry that I do not have a more optimistic answer.
Yes. If they can show that they were dismissed because they filed a complaint then the Employment Standards Branch will take this new complaint very seriously, so they should absolutely file a complaint and make it clear that not only were they dismissed but others were immediately hired to fill their positions.