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April 6, 2001 (Fredericton) The International Labour Organization agrees with the Canadian Union of Public Employees that casual workers in the New Brunswick public service should have the right to join unions. This ruling was made in response to a complaint filed by CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress in April 2000. The announcement of the ILO decision was made at annual convention of CUPE New Brunswick, in front of more than two hundred delegates from across the province.

Today we are calling on the Lord government to respect the ruling, said CUPE National President Judy Darcy. The government has an obligation to give these workers the same rights and protections as all other employees. It is time to put an end to a system that pits worker against worker and it is time for casuals to come into the union.

Under the NB Public Service Labour Relations Act, most part-time and temporary workers in the public service are not defined as employees. Although many carry almost a full time load or have been working in the public service for years, they do not have the right to unionize and be covered by a collective agreement.

These casuals work side by side with workers who are called employees, performing the same work, however they have very different terms and conditions of employment, said Susan Barton, President of the CUPEs New Brunswick Division. These workers are generally paid considerably less and have very little job protection. CUPE calls this discrimination and in its decision, so does the ILO.

This is a basic issue of fairness and respect for all working people and their families. CUPE New Brunswick can be very proud of having shown real leadership in taking on this fight on behalf of all workers in the province, added Darcy.

Canada is a signatory to the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention of the ILO. In its ruling, the ILO states [The ILO] requests the Government to take appropriate measures in the near future to ensure that casual and other workersbe granted the right to bargain collectively, in conformance with the principles of freedom of association.

The International Labour Organization is the United Nations agency that formulates Conventions and Recommendations setting minimum standards of basic labour rights.

CUPE is New Brunswicks largest union, representing 19,000 workers across the province.

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For more information:
Laurie Kingston, CUPE Communications, (613) 266-1415 (cell)