UN labour agency condemns human rights violations by Campbell government

An agency of the United Nations has again condemned the Campbell Liberal government for violating workers human rights by contravening international labour standards that Canadian governments are supposed to uphold.

In a highly critical report released recently, the International Labour Organization
(ILO) uses blunt language to condemn the BC government for clear violations of
freedom of association principles. It also put pressure on Victoria to repair the
damage done and demanded that the province come into compliance with international standards.

Further, the UN body also warns the Campbell Liberals to -abstain from adopting"
any similar laws in the future.

-This is the ninth time in two years that the ILO has condemned the BC government
for trampling on the basic rights of workers," says George Heyman, president of the
BC Government and Service Employees Union, which was one of three labour
organizations to file the complaint.

-These violations are a horrible blemish on our international image," he says. -The
bottom line is that when it comes to respecting basic labour rights, BC has the worst
conviction record of any government in North America."

Meanwhile, Cindy Stewart, president of the Health Sciences Association, called on
the Campbell government to comply immediately with all of the ILO recommendations.
-If BC wants to avoid condemnation and embarrassment on the international stage,
then the Liberals must learn to respect basic rights," says Stewart. She warns that in
the past -on controversial issues like environmental practices, weve seen what can
happen when the world community takes exception to the practices of our provincial

-Now, with these latest ILO violations, Premier Campbell is exposing BC to the
prospect of further censure from the world community," Stewart says.

The ruling involves three anti-worker laws passed in 2003:

  • Bill 94, the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act stripped basic rights and protections that exist in the provincial labour code to create draconian union-free zones for private health corporations to operate in BC;
  • Bill 18, the Coastal Ferry Act dealt with the Campbell government efforts to establish B.C. ferries as a private corporation, and
  • Bill 95, the Railway and Ferries Bargaining Assistance Act, was used by Victoria to intervene in ferry workers bargaining in the fall of 2003.

Two years ago, the ILO found the Campbell government guilty of rights abuses for
passing six other laws in 2002. These violated international standards by shredding
signed collective agreements and curtailing bargaining rights for more than 150,000
health, social service and education workers. To date, the province continues to thumb its
nose at the UN agency, and has failed to comply with any recommendations to bring
these laws into compliance.
The most recent complaint was filed on behalf of BCGEU and HSA by the two organizations
national body, the National Union of Public and General Employees. NUPGE
president James Clancy says that when it comes to labour laws, no government in the
history of Canada has abused their legislative power more often than the Campbell

-On the international scene, this decision will be viewed as a major embarrassment for
the province, and for Canada," says Clancy.

The ILO is a tripartite body made up of representatives from business, government and
unions. Its job is to monitor and enforce international labour standards, and safeguard
workers human rights. Canada and all provinces are signatories to many ILO conventions, and have undertaken -to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith" the principles underlying these standards.

For background information, please visit www.nupge.ca.


For more information, contact:
Stephen Howard, BCGEU, (604) 992-0105
Rebecca Maurer, HSABC, (604) 439-0994
Derek Fudge, NUPGE, (613) 228-9800

UN labour agency condemns human rights violations by Campbell government