Post secondary legislation banning unions from college boards discriminatory

November 4, 2011

For Immediate Release

Proposed changes to the College and Institutes Act fundamentally discriminate against union activists and severely limit the powers of elected board members, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union said today.

The changes – which are included as part of Bill 18, the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act – would ban union activists from serving on college boards, prohibit elected board members from serving as chair, and make it easier for the government to remove elected board members.

“These legislative changes don’t make any sense,” says BCGEU president Darryl Walker. “They say that regular union members can serve on college boards, but that union activists are specifically prohibited. If enacted, this legislation would remove our members’ constitutional right to freedom of association.

“The government cannot use conflict of interest as an argument either,” says Walker. “Conflict of Interest legislation already regulates members of public bodies, and union activists are no more in conflict than regular union members who may sit on these boards.”

Other proposed legislative changes include a ban on elected college board members serving as chair, and new powers granting boards the power to remove elected members with a 2/3 majority vote.

“This legislation is Orwellian, in that it creates two classes of board members,” says Walker. “If you are elected from your community, you become a second class board member, and the government can easily use their appointed majority to remove you if you disagree with their decisions.

“This government seems to have learned nothing from the Supreme Court battle over labour rights. Legislation that mandates elected employee group representation but bans employee representatives cannot stand. The government should do the right thing by withdrawing this legislation and engaging in a public consultation on these changes before moving forward.