Sunday, August 15, 2010


A couple of days ago Molly blogged on the recently discovered conditions of virtual slave labour at the Khaira tree planting camp in BC. The following sort of connects with the previous post on XL Beef about dependence on leftist parties and their good graces, but it has an additional fillip. Regular readers of this blog may notice my general 'pro-union' biases, just as they may notice my biases to rational and organized anarchism (as opposed to so much of the nuttiness of North American anarchism). At the same time I am very happy to be independent of any organization as this allows me to criticize when criticism is due. i say this because of a recent post from the National Union of Public and General Employees Union (NUPGE) blaming the recently uncovered events in BC on cutbacks in the civil service in that province. Here's a reprint from Molly's first blog on this subject:

One reason the government may be hesitant about a full inquiry is that Khaira Enterprises has been a long standing supplier of labour to the province. According to the Power Profiles site they have been in business for 10-20 years with total sales of $2,000,000. As far back as 1999 they were listed as being paid $219,288 by the province. Even more astoundingly in March 2009 they were certified as 'Safe Certified' by BC Forest Safety. The latter is a quanga set up of mainly industry and government representatives but also with a nominal union representation.

Note the following. Khaira Enterprises were getting government contracts as far back as 1999. The NDP was in power in BC until 2001, and the presumed "cuts" were far in the future. Khaira Enterprises "passed inspection" way back in the "glory days" of social democracy. Also note that in 2009 Khaira Entperprises was "safe certified" which seems to say that a civil serpent did indeed inspect said business under the authority of the board of Worksafe BC which has union representation (the USW to be exact). The so-called 'Worksafe BC' was a renaming of the old BC 'Workers' Compensation Board' in 2005, continuing the trend of trying to remove responsibility for unsafe work conditions from the enterprises onto individual workers. This is a trend that has been followed in political jurisdictions governed by left wing parties as well.

What Jacques Ellul called the "political illusion" is nowhere as bluntly visible as in situations such as this. If a system is set up such that various workers are considered to have "fewer rights" than others, and if this system is governed by a political process that allows one side (the employers) to have undue influence on its process then naturally abuses will become common. One can only wonder about how many other Khaira Enterprises there are across the country, and one is not surprised about how these things occur under social democratic governments with a maximum of government employees. Simply multiplying 'inspectors' does nothing if the inspection process is biased to begin with. That's where I, as a libertarian socialist, part company with statist socialists and why I think there is a better way to ensure workers' rights than government decree.

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