PSAC’s bargaining teams are declaring impasse after the Liberal government failed to make substantial progress towards a new contract. Teams representing 90,000 public service workers met with government officials from April 30 to May 2.
“PSAC members are incredibly disappointed and frustrated that, after almost a year of talks, the government squandered this critical opportunity to negotiate a fair contract for public service workers before the House rises for the federal election,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “We’ve been left with no choice but to declare impasse and start the process that will lead to strike preparations.”
Rather than focusing on making quick progress at the table, the government waited two days to present what it claimed to be a comprehensive package of proposals. While some proposals, taken alone, leaned in the right direction, these were contingent on the union agreeing to unacceptable contract concessions.
After three years of the Phoenix nightmare, PSAC will not return to the table until the government shows a genuine willingness to deliver the fair deal our members deserve.
Falling short on pay and retro
The Trudeau government’s offer of 1.5 per cent in each year of four years falls well below the rate of inflation and short of the nearly 2 per cent pay raise given to Members of Parliament on May 1. Also, the government wants workers to wait for up to 18 months after the new contract is signed to receive retroactive pay. The current retro pay implementation period is 5 months.
Concessions on mental health and child care, resistance on breastfeeding breaks
The government is also insisting on dissolving the existing Memorandum of Understanding on mental health (MOU) and refusing the union’s proposals to replace it with an updated framework, putting at risk years of joint progress on this issue. Moreover, the government is refusing to implement recommendations stemming from a previous child care MOU, and is resisting our proposal to allow nursing women breastfeeding breaks. These positions are at odds with the Liberals’ claimed feminist agenda and the right to breastfeed in the Canada Labour Code.
“PSAC made it clear over the last few months that this bargaining session was Trudeau’s last chance to restore a respectful relationship with public service workers—as he promised to do back in 2015,” added Aylward. “If he’s not willing to make this right before the next election, I know PSAC members won’t forget it when they head to the ballot box.”
PSAC had previously declared bargaining impasse in December, following the government’s insulting offer of a two-year wage freeze but agreed to return to the table to give Trudeau ample opportunity to make things right.
PSAC remains committed to achieving a new contract that improves work-life balance, strengthens job security, closes wage gaps with the private sector, and ensures fair economic increases.
The bargaining sessions covered four bargaining units under Treasury Board: Program & Administrative Services (PA), Technical Services (TC), Operations Services (SV), and Education & Library Science (EB).
The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.