The South Cariboo Labour Council (SCLC) has had its operations “suspended” by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
SCLC president Norm Provost says the CLC cited non-compliance with its audits and regulations in an Aug. 4 letter, which was also sent to the local labour councils in Quesnel and Peace River.
A new North Central Labour Council [NCLC] based in Prince George was formed by CLC last fall, he notes.
“They’ve been after our South Cariboo Labour Council (SCLC), the Quesnel Labour Council (QLC), the Peace River Labour Council (PRLC) and a few other smaller ones to merge [with NCLC].”
All three councils refused because they see no benefit to their members, he explains, and are asking their affiliate unions to follow suit.
“We can’t see any advantage to working people in the South Cariboo having to go to meetings up in Prince George.”
Provost says he believes the charter suspension is a direct result of its refusal to join NCLC.
However, Amber Hockin, CLC Pacific regional director, says the SCLC has been repeatedly warned it is in non-compliance with numerous CLC bylaws.
“On March 17, the SCLC received a letter and it said, ‘these are the things that you have to comply with and we’re giving you 35 days to comply,’ and those things weren’t done.”
She notes it is not one thing that resulted in CLC’s decision to suspend SCLC’s charter, but a number of things that demonstrated it cannot function as a council.
“The problem has been going on for some time. There is not adequate quorum at meetings, there’s no adequate minutes of meetings … it’s a long-standing process.
“For a labour council to function, you have to have a mass of people who want and are able to participate and make that [happen].”
Noting all of the SCLC members are volunteers, Provost says getting a quorum together is difficult.
He adds the only items SCLC wasn’t in compliance with were not forwarding the names of its affiliates, not getting the financial statements signed by trustees, and having the necessary quorums.
SCLC meetings are deferred during summer with many members away for holidays, Provost explains.
The SCLC meetings’ minutes and its audited year-end financial statements were provided to comply with CLC bylaws, he adds.
Hockin confirms some e-mails arrived, but most either had no attachments or were missing required details.
The CLC’s audit procedures must be done with trustees who review meeting minutes for expenditures before the CLC can forward any funds.
The last time his charter heard from its area rep (who reports to Hockin) was in June, Provost says, adding she didn’t mention any outstanding actions, except that the format of the financial statements SCLC sent wasn’t correct.
“[The rep] didn’t send us the proper forms. She never came after us and said, ‘we need these forms; we need those forms’.”
Hockin explains the SCLC has shrunk in its affiliate members to the point it cannot run efficiently.
“The reality is, all labour councils have to comply with the minimum requirements that are set out in the bylaws of their council, and this council simply didn’t do that – not even close.”
In existence since 1975, the SCLC is unlikely to have its suspension lifted any time in the foreseeable future, she says, unless a large unionized industry starts up locally.
“Something could change, if the union density in the area increased to the point where they would be able to sustain a labour council, both in terms of bodies, as well as the amount of money they would actually bring in to run themselves.
“We’re not closing the door completely, but at the present time, all of the evidence we have shows the council can’t function as it is.”