PA bargaining: Government rejects key improvements to contracts

December 18, 2019
Bargaining

During the Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearings held between December 4 and 7, the government presented a slew of negative proposals affecting members in the Program and Administrative Services (PA) group. An overview of regressive proposals affecting PSAC’s core public service bargaining units is available here, while PA-specific proposals are highlighted below.

PSAC is committed to rejecting concessionary proposals and to keep pushing for improvements in the PA collective agreement.

The union is also disappointed that the government, with all the resources at its disposal, refused to provide a PIC submission in both official languages. You can download PSAC’s full PIC submission in English and French and access the government’s English submission here.

Delays to new classification system and rejection of damages

PSAC wants to negotiate pay rates for the five new groups deriving from the much delayed modernization and restructuring of the PA unit. Despite numerous missed deadlines, the government says it needs an additional two years to map existing positions to the new classifications and refuses to negotiate these associated pay rates.

PSAC members are still waiting to be paid fairly, in accordance with an up-to-date and accurate gender-neutral evaluation of their work. In recognition of this, PSAC has proposed that the government pay each employee in the PA unit $333 per month in damages until the new classification system is established. The government has dismissed this proposal.

No incentives for recruitment and retention of compensation and benefits employees

Due to Phoenix, workers at the Pay Centre and its satellite offices are operating in a high-pressure environment with a massive workload. To help ensure employee recruitment and retention, the government had agreed to provide an incentive allowance, but refused to continue the practice in the summer of 2019. PSAC has proposed to re-introduce these incentives (i.e., a one-time payment of $4,000 to Compensation Advisors and a provision that all overtime is to be paid at double-time).

With over 200,000 Phoenix cases in the backlog, it is shocking that the government rejected this proposal.

Rejection of workload concerns for Parole Officers (WP) workers

PSAC’s members working as Parole Officers (WP) at the Correctional Service of Canada have been struggling with excessive workload issues for more than two decades. In a 2019 survey, more than 93% of Parole Officers said their case load was too heavy, characterized by an increasingly complex offender population due to substance abuse, gang violence and mental health issues. To address this, the union has made a series of proposals to ensure a safe and manageable caseload ratio.

The government rejected all proposals and has argued that workload concerns should not be addressed at the bargaining table.

No paid breastfeeding breaks for new mothers

PSAC has proposed two paid periods available to nursing mothers for breastfeeding or pumping milk in a safe and private location. The benefits of breastfeeding are well-established by numerous Canadian and international health organizations and PSAC believes employers should facilitate nursing for women who choose to do so.

The employer has dismissed this proposal as “unreasonable and impractical”, a remarkable position for a government that brands itself as advancing women’s interests.

No allowance for Indigenous languages at work

PSAC is proposing that employees who are required to speak or write in an Indigenous language as part of their duties be provided with an annual allowance of $1,015. The union believes this proposal is consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, which seek greater recognition and support for Indigenous languages.

The government has dismissed this proposal.

No additional training and support for call centre workers

The federal government employs approximately 7,000 employees in call centre operations that serve Canadians seeking a wide range of services, such as Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. This work is challenging and involves speaking with clients who may be distressed or in crisis. To better support call centre workers, PSAC has proposed additional training to reinforce coping skills as well as crisis intervention.

The government has rejected these proposals and is instead proposing to deploy call monitoring—currently used for improving performance and providing feedback—for disciplinary purposes.

Reduced notice of shift change

The government wants to reduce the notice for changes to scheduled shifts from seven days to just 48 hours. Currently, a change imposed with less than seven days’ notice requires the worker to be paid at the rate of time-and-a-half. Under the government’s proposals, this higher rate of pay would only be triggered if changes to shifts are made with less than two days’ notice.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.


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