Unanswered Letter to the Chief Executive of the Dunedin City Council.
19 March I997
Mr M Douglas
Dunedin Clty Council
P.O. Box 5045
Dear Mr Douglas,
The Centre would like to draw to your attention if lt may, the possibility that the
Dunedin City Council may be in breach of international Iaw by virtue of its participation
in work schemes, such as Task Force Green, which involve the unemployed being forced
to work against their will on pain of Iosing the unemployment benefit.
In its 1993 publication "International Labour Conventions Ratified by New Zealand" ,
p28, the New Zealand Department of Labour claimed that the Committee of Experts of
the International Labour Organisation had held that being forced to work in order to
qualify for an unemployment benefit was not forced Iabour. The Centre was of the
opinion that such a claim violated the concept of psychological verisimiIitude and
therefore sought confirmation from the ILO.
The ILO's reply, citing the case of ChiIe, makes it clear that forcing the unemployed to
work against their will on pain of losing their benefit is in fact forced labour.
As a result of this information the Centre sought a Iegal opinion on the matter and has
been advised that parties breaching the provisions of the Forced Labour Convention,
I930, may be in breach of intemational Iaw. Leaving aside the matter of law, the Centre
would also like to draw to your attention the immorality of an organisation such as the
Dunedin City Council, which exists to serve the people of Dunedin, taking part in
schemes which breach a major convention on human rights and which therefore oppress
the citizens it exists to serve.
For your information please find enclosed copies of the ILO's reply to the Centre, the
Forced Labour Convention,1930 itself and a copy of the Otago Daily Times article on
J M STEVENSON (Mr)