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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 18, Number 5, March 2006

BCTF files another complaint with the ILO

The BCTF has filed another formal complaint with the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, over the provincial government’s introduction of Bill 12, legislation that provoked the shutdown of all public schools for two weeks.

The ILO ruled against the provincial government in 2003 stating that while education is important, it is not an essential service under international treaties Canada signed in 1948. An essential service is one that must be available 24/7 and is necessary to protect life and property.

The ILO called on the provincial government to honour the fundamental principles of free collective bargaining and freedom of association, repeal the essential service legislation, refrain from imposing conditions of employment, and open discussions with the union.

The provincial government submitted its case to the ILO in response to the BCTF complaint in 2002, but the premier stated that he felt no need to obey the ruling.

The introduction of Bill 12 in September 2005, and the attempt to impose conditions of employment once again, was a direct contravention of the previous ILO ruling. The provincial government refuses to follow international law at the same time it complains that the US ignores international rulings on the softwood lumber dispute. The provincial government was actually in contravention of international law when it called on teachers to end the strike.

To read the full 10-page document, go to bctf.ca/bargain/rights/ILO/complaint2006-01-17.pdf.

– Peter Owens

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