The owner of a B.C. company accused of treating African tree-planters like slaves says he did nothing wrong, and plans to bid on more government contracts as soon as possible.

Khalid Bajwa of Khaira Enterprises says that he plans to go to B.C. Supreme Court to appeal a decision from the Employment Standards Branch ordering his company to pay $236,800 in unpaid wages to former workers.

"Why are these guys not satisfied with me?" Bajwa told "We paid 100 per cent wages at the time."

He claims that workers at Khaira's government contract site near Golden were dumping seedlings rather than planting them, and they didn't deserve to be paid in full.

"I lost over 100,000 trees over these guys dumping the trees," he said. "If I get only 50 per cent of the work, we only pay 50 per cent of the wages."

Bajwa insists that the workers are only asking for money for the hours spent travelling to work sites, not any unpaid wages, and he shouldn't have to pay for that.

"They say that we have to pay them travel time. Why are they pushing me to pay the travel time when not any single company in B.C. pays travel time?" he said.

But according to a June 28 decision from the Employment Standards Tribunal dismissing an appeal from Khaira, "The former employees were owed regular and overtime wages, annual and statutory holiday pay, compensation for length of service, return of unauthorized deductions and interest."

Bajwa says that he will only pay the workers if his appeal is rejected in court.

"I can sell my property, I can sell my vehicle, and then I will pay," he said.

The B.C. government has filed a lawsuit against Bajwa's partner, Hardilpreet Singh Sidhu, claiming that he transferred ownership of his $605,000 house to his wife to avoid paying the tree planters.

The Employment Standards Branch is holding $105,000 in trust for the workers, but that money won't be released until the tribunal's appeal process is complete, which could take several months.

An appeal in B.C. Supreme Court will add years to the process.

Khaira was banned from government work for a year after officials discovered squalid conditions at the Golden camp. That injunction was scheduled to end this month, but the Ministry of Forests has had it extended until September 2012.

Bajwa was unaware of the extension, and says he plans to go back into business as soon as possible.

"If I see any bid in B.C., I can bid. I will bid. I did not do anything wrong," he said. "This company is like a mother to me. It is like a family."

He added that he doesn't plan to change anything about how the company operates.

"I think everything is ready, and we always send a notice to WorkSafe BC. If they want to come, they can inspect that place," he said.

Bajwa denies mistreatment of workers

Workers at Khaira's Golden site -- many of whom are recent immigrants from Africa -- complained that they slept seven men to a single trailer, fed rotten food, assaulted with knives and rocks and forced to live without clean drinking water and toilets.

They also say they were treated like animals and subjected to constant racial abuse, and a human rights complaint filed in January alleges that Khaira kept racially segregated living quarters and told African workers they would be fired if they spoke their native languages.

But Bajwa denies claims that workers were mistreated, and says that poor conditions at the camp were created by the employees.

"They go on strike because these guys do low quality of work," he said. "They destroyed everything."

Neighbours of another Khaira site on Texada Island complained to the government last year about conditions in that camp as well, where as many as 15 people were sleeping in a single trailer, washing themselves with cups of water and eating just one meal per day.

Ros Salvador, a lawyer who represents 25 Khaira workers, was speechless when she was told that Bajwa feels he did nothing wrong and plans to go back into business.

"The fact of someone showing absolutely no remorse for that degree of worker abuse and racial abuse is unthinkable," she said. "People were being underfed, fed rotten food, being ridiculously overworked -- working 13 hours a day or more -- racially abused and not paid."

She acknowledged that it's possible some of the workers were dumping trees, but added that it's not clear if they were actually instructed to do so by staff at Khaira to complete the contract more quickly.