NUPGE joins call for waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medical products

The National Union of Public and General Employees is joining with Public Services International in supporting calls for a waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medical products.

Ottawa (4 Dec 2020)—The National Union is supporting the efforts of Public Services International (a global trade union federation) in urging governments to support the proposal of India, South Africa, Kenya, Eswatini, Pakistan and Mozambique for a “Waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19” and for making permanent the waiver of TRIPS obligations for least developed countries.

Moving forward from COVID shouldn't be only for the rich countries

"Our members have been providing important public services throughout the pandemic," said Larry Brown, President of the 390,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "We are deeply worried that the monopoly powers given to pharmaceutical companies by the World Trade Organization will mean companies can make extravagant profits at the expense of workers and the public." 
Brown explains that "without these waivers, under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), pharmaceutical companies will be able to prevent other manufacturers from producing COVID-19 vaccines and medicines. This will dramatically limit the speed and scale of vaccine production."

"WTO rules ensure big pharma has a monopoly over the market and can dictate prices even to governments, which will consume public finances required for a healthy recovery."

"As a global community we must work to ensure universal access to a vaccine!"

Proposed waiver gaining widespread support 

The COVID-19 waiver is supported by the World Health Organization, UN Human Rights Experts, UNITAID and UNAIDS. For further information go to Public Services International.
The National Union is encouraging members and other organizations to write to the Canadian government to ensure they are aware that health workers and other public services workers expect them to support these proposals (letter templates available at the link above). To be implemented, the waiver proposal must be endorsed by the WTO's General Council before the end of the year.

The TRIPS Council is the body in charge of reviewing the proposal and forwarding it to the WTO General Council for endorsement. 
The Council will meet on December 10 to deliberate on these matters. The deadline for letters is December 7, 2020.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE