A group of tree planters who say they were treated like slaves at a B.C. camp last year are set to receive a little less than half of the unpaid wages they're owed, but their former boss says that's all they'll get.

Fifty-eight former Khaira Enterprises employees -- most of them new immigrants from Africa -- will receive $105,000 that's been held in trust for them for months, the B.C. Ministry of Labour said Friday.

According to the latest calculations from the Employment Standards Tribunal, Surrey-based Khaira owes its workers a total of $241,704 in wages.

Company owner Khalid told ctvbc.ca that he plans to appeal the tribunal's order that he pay the former workers.

"I can challenge to B.C. Supreme Court. I will not sit at home. I want my business back," he said.

Lawyer Ros Salvador, who represents many of the tree planters, says she's frustrated by that attitude.

"The legal arguments advanced don't have any legal basis to them. It appears that Khaira is just using this as a stalling tactic and prefers to use its resources on legal processes rather than just paying its workers," she said.

Salvador says the amount owed may be even higher because the tribunal is now investigating the claims of four more former Khaira employees who say they're owed money.

Workers were removed from a Khaira site near Golden last summer after they complained they were made to sleep 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 said they were 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.

Bajwa, who says he has been in the tree-planting business since 1994, adamantly denies all allegations that he mistreated his workers.

Khaira has been banned from bidding on government projects until September 2012, but Bajwa says the work stoppage is hurting his other employees.

"Our other workers, they are suffering too," he said. "They usually work with me every year and now they're sitting at home."

He says he plans to speak to his Surrey MP, Conservative Nina Grewal, about the issue within the next week.

"At least she can ask to do true justice," 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.

Meanwhile, many of Khaira's former employees have struggled to find work while they wait to be paid as much as $12,000 in back wages, and some have even been forced to live on the street.

"The homelessness issue continues to be a problem," Salvador said.

"I think people are probably relieved to have a small portion of their wages, but it's less than half the wages owed."

The province's Forest Safety Ombudsman Roger Harris released a report this summer examining what went wrong at Khaira's Golden camp.

Harris called conditions at the camp "intolerable," and blamed the situation on several problems with the government's process for awarding tree-planting contracts and how it monitors safety, health and labour issues at contract sites.

A key problem is the tendency to award contracts to the lowest bidder, according to the ombudsman.