Author Archives: Pierre St-Jacques

FB bargaining: No trust in CBSA; team rejects concessions to hours of work

Photo of a border services officer with the words bargaining - FB group

The FB bargaining team continued their push to make Canada Border Services Agency a better place to work during talks with Treasury Board/CBSA the week of January 20, but the employer still refuses to budge on any meaningful improvements.

Our team highlighted issues around:

Name tags

The employer still insists that officers must display their names on name tags. Our team reiterated that this practice puts officers at risk and is unacceptable.

Medical notes

Our bargaining team firmly opposes the need for medical notes when employees are sick. CBSA shouldn’t be asking employees to provide medical notes, and if the Agency wants one provided, they should reimburse members for it.

Paid meal period

The employer rejected our proposal for a paid meal period, but we’re maintaining our position. Officers have to tool-up and tool-down for lunch; otherwise they have to wear their tools during lunch. Given this reality, meal periods should be paid like other law enforcement agencies.
Paid time for firearm practice: Our team is seeking to have paid firearm practice time provided to officers under the collective agreement equivalent to two shifts per year.

Seniority and work location

There are significant problems with the way management assigns officers to new locations. Across Canada, there are officers who are looking to work in different parts of the country. But right now, management passes over senior officers for these assignments and even places new hires in locations where union members are looking to work. We are seeking a fair and transparent process where officers can exercise their seniority if they wish to change districts or regions.

Telework

We again raised the issue of telework for our non-uniformed members. Our team does not understand why CBSA chiefs and superintendents get their telework approved regularly, while non-frontline staff who require an accommodation are denied telework. This is yet another example of the double standard at CBSA, where management gets preferential treatment over employees. We want language in the contract to address this issue.

VSSAs

CBSA is proposing that VSSAs should no longer be negotiated, but rather run through a ‘consultation’ process with our union. All too often at CBSA, ‘consultation’ means ‘impose’. We told CBSA “No” and rejected their proposal. Our team doesn’t trust CBSA management with our hours of work.

We also discussed student issues, the dog hander allowance and reiterated our position concerning pension reform.

To review the package of proposals that we tabled as well as those of the employer, visit: psacunion.ca/fb-group. We’ll continue to provide updates during our next bargaining session the week of February 23. To see other updates on Treasury Board bargaining, check out psacunion.ca/treasury-board.

We stand for law enforcement

Together as FBs, we’ve achieved incredible victories over the years. PSAC is the largest union in the federal public service, and one of the largest public sector unions in the country. No other union has more experience in bargaining and representation within the federal public service than PSAC and CIU.

  • We successfully won the right for Border Services Officers to be armed in 2006.
  • Since 2007, PSAC-CIU successfully negotiated a 48% increase in compensation for frontline BSO, including a 17.5% raise in 2018.
  • We won significant new rights for shift workers, including protections in the context of VSSA negotiations and seniority rights.

Standing together, we will continue to work together and hold the CBSA’s feet to the fire to ensure we can continue to make groundbreaking gains for FB members.

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

TB bargaining – PA group and common issues: Government squanders mediation opportunity

Bargaining

Last week, mediation between Treasury Board and PSAC ended without a tentative agreement as government representatives refused to make progress on PSAC’s key demands. The session covered both common issues as well as those specific to the PA unit – 90,000 federal public service workers in Program & Administrative Services.

After four years of Phoenix problems, the employer didn’t come to the table ready to get to a deal, instead they arrived with the same proposals PSAC has been rejecting for months. 

PSAC is standing firm on our core demands, including fair wage increases, Phoenix-related demands, and the working conditions that make balancing family and work possible.

Unfair wages

The government is proposing wage increases of about 7% for the 2018-2021 period. This is below inflation, which is projected at about 8% for the same period. In order to meet inflation, the government wants us to forgo an additional 1% market adjustment meant to raise earnings for specific groups that are below industry averages, and instead use that 1% to increase the overall wage offer. It’s not fair for the Employer to ask all PSAC members to pay for market adjustments. It should be their responsibility.

To be clear, we won’t accept any offer that doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of living while also addressing group specific market adjustments.

Phoenix-related demands

The impact of the Phoenix pay system is a central issue on the bargaining table for each of PSAC’s federal public service bargaining units. To mitigate ongoing pay problems and avoid such debacle in the future, PSAC is asking for key provisions to be put into our collective agreements.

PSAC is demanding a penalty clause in the collective agreement so that members are properly compensated when they are not paid properly or on time. Also, we want an end to the recovery of overpayments before an employee’s pay issues are completely resolved. Although PSAC has secured a temporary agreement to halt this practice, we want this protection permanently included in our collective agreements.

PSAC is also seeking reimbursement for members who are forced to seek accounting and financial management counselling due to pay problems cause by the Employer.

Finally, to avoid future disasters, we are asking for more and proper consultation before any technological changes are put in place affecting our members.

Extended parental leave

PSAC has proposed that members choosing the newly extended 18-month parental leave option receive a 93% top-up for the entirety of the leave period (i.e., combined maternity and parental leave lasting 18 months). Currently, members opting for the extended parental leave option receive a 93% top-up for the first twelve months (i.e., combined and maternity and parental leave), followed by an Employment Insurance payment of 33% of their salary for the next six months of parental leave.

However, the government is insisting on a new formula that would provide members taking the extended parental leave with only a 55.8% top-up for the parental leave period. This is a major concession and a stunning proposal from a “feminist” government that claims to support improved work-life balance.

Workforce Adjustment

PSAC is proposing to recognize years of service in a WFA situation, so that those with seniority are prioritized for alternate positions. Besides, our proposal seeks to ensure that when an employee is deemed to be in surplus, a guaranteed reasonable job offer will be made within a 40-kilometer radius.

In contrast, the government wants to open the door wide to relocating workers in the event of a workforce adjustment. This would create situations where workers would have to either uproot and move their families or lose their jobs without access to the WFA options.

What’s next

PSAC’s answer to this latest insult by Treasury Board is simple: while the report from the Public Interest Commission should be tabled anytime soon, we’re moving forward towards workplace action and a strike mandate until a fair settlement is reached.

Keep an eye out in your workplaces for upcoming information sessions and strike training. And make sure you’re getting bargaining updates by email.

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

FB bargaining team returns to the table next week

Photo of a border services officer with the words bargaining - FB group

The CIU-PSAC FB bargaining team is returning to the table the week of January 20. With our members rallying in the last month to show their support, our team is keen to meet with the employer and continue pushing for a fair and equitable contract. Stay tuned – we’ll be sure to provide you with updates as the bargaining process continues!

TB bargaining: PSAC heads into mediation for PA group and common issues

Bargaining

PSAC’s bargaining team representing 90,000 federal public service workers in the Program & Administrative Services (PA) unit has agreed to mediation on January 16 and 17.

The session is being convened by the Public Interest Commission (PIC) and will cover both common issues as well as those specific to the PA unit (information for the other Treasury Board units will be forthcoming).

PSAC and the government presented their respective bargaining positions at a PIC hearing on December 4-7.

PSAC will provide an update on the mediation session once it is complete.

What is a Public Interest Commission (PIC)?

Under the law that governs contract negotiations in the federal public service, once impasse is reached at the bargaining table, a PIC is established to help the parties reach an agreement.

The PIC is a panel of three people – a chairperson appointed by the Labour Board and nominees appointed by the union and management. The union and the employer submit briefs and explain their positions on the outstanding issues at a hearing with the PIC. The PIC chairperson also has the option of convening additional talks. The PIC then issues a report with recommendations for settlement. The recommendations are not binding.

Once the PIC releases its report, the union’s bargaining team will meet to discuss the recommendations. Traditionally, following this, PSAC and government representatives have returned to the table to resume negotiations. We expect the PIC reports to be issued in 2020.

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

Members rally in Saint John

Photo of a border services officer with the words bargaining - FB group

CIU members kicked off the New Year by rallying in Saint John, NB, in support of the FB bargaining team. The rally, which took place on January 7, 2020, followed a meeting with Wayne Long, MP for Saint John-Rothesay. The PSAC-CIU bargaining team representing FB (Border Services) personnel is returning to the bargaining table later this month. Continue reading