Tag Archives: SV

Strike votes for PA, SV, TC & EB bargaining units begin March 16

Union member protesting

PSAC National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for members of the PA, SV, TC and EB bargaining units following the release of the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report last week.

More than 90,000 members of the four bargaining units will have an opportunity to vote at strike meetings to be held from March 16 to May 7, 2020. Strike votes for the 27,000 members of the Canada Revenue Agency bargaining unit are already underway.

“PSAC bargaining teams need a strong strike mandate from members to force Treasury Board to come back to the bargaining table with a new mandate so that we can get a fair settlement quickly,” said Aylward.

Aylward noted that the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report on common issues made it clear that to reach a deal the government will need to offer PSAC members more Phoenix compensation and a wage increase in line with the cost of living. The report also highlighted the need to address compensation gaps and recruitment/retention challenges for those groups that are underpaid relative to comparable groups inside or outside the federal public sector.

The government’s current offer falls short on all fronts. They have yet to table wage increases that would ensure rises in the cost of living are met, and their Phoenix compensation proposal remains meagre and unequal across the public service.

“The threat of a strike will give the employer the nudge it needs to avoid more disruption during their minority government,” said Aylward.

“That’s why we urge all PSAC members to vote yes.”

In the coming weeks members will receive notices of strike vote meetings via email and through your locals and regional offices. The information will also be posted on the front page of the national website, as well on PSAC regional websites.

Please check out the following link if you would like more information on strike votes and strike action. We’ll be adding more information in the days ahead to answer a wide range of questions so make sure to check back.

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

SV bargaining: Government still focused on pushing concessions

Bargaining

PSAC’s SV bargaining team and government representatives were in three days of hearings at a Public Interest Commission (PIC) from January 22 to 24. Unfortunately, the government once again squandered the opportunity to address key member concerns and doubled down on a range of previously presented concessions that the union already rejected.

You can download PSAC’s SV PIC submission here and the government’s submission here.

PSAC presents improvements to contract

The bargaining team used the PIC opportunity to continue presenting proposals that address member concerns, including:

  • fair economic increases that keep up with inflation;
  • market adjustments to ensure members earn comparable wages to those of operational services workers external to the federal public service (e.g., firefighters, tradespersons, ships’ crews, and heating, power, and water treatment operators);
  • improvement to group-specific allowances;
  • various measures to improve work-life balance.

The government rejected all these proposals.

Instead, they doubled down of the following concession proposals: 

Reduced call back provisions

The government wants to reduce call back pay by giving itself the right to request that call back assignments be performed at home. In such situations, employees would no longer earn a minimum of three hours at the overtime rate of pay for each call back and instead be paid only for one hour at straight time or actual hours at time and a half, whichever is the greater.

PSAC rejects this proposal as it will create the expectation that problems in the workplace—for instance, those involving malfunctioning vessels, heating plants, building or freezer alarms, or water treatment systems—be addressed remotely. This would be dangerous and allow the government to forgo ‘eyes on the ground’ in high-risk situations in exchange for a shortsighted reduction in wage costs.

Weakening of Correctional Services Specific Duty Allowance (CSSDA)

The government’s proposal opens the door to excluding those who work outside of Correctional Service of Canada penitentiaries from receiving the CSSDA. The union does not accept this proposal as it denies the CSSDA to many members who interact with or are in proximity to offenders—for example, those working at facilities that operate offender training programs.

PSAC believes this change is unnecessary and will prevent workers that currently qualify for and receive the CSSDA from continuing to receive it.

Reduced notice for scheduling changes

The government is insisting on reducing the notice of schedule changes to just 48 hours. Currently, FRs are provided with a minimum of 96 hours-notice of schedule changes and those in the GL, GS, HP and HS groups are provided with seven days- notice. Under the proposed changes, members will only earn compensation at the rate of time-and-a-half if they are advised of new schedules within a 48-hour window.

Moreover, for those in the Ships’ Crew (SC) group covered by Annex E (Lay-day work system), whose schedules are normally set a year in advance and are given at least fourteen days (14) notice of any schedule change, the government wants to reduce the notice period to a mere 48 hours. Under this scheme, a worker could be out to sea for 28 days with little notice.

The union strongly rejects this regressive proposal, which would severely interfere with the work-life balance of many members and provide no compensation in situations where workers are required to significantly alter personal obligations, commitments, and plans.

Weakening of Inmate Training Differential Allowance Plan

The government proposed a single percentage rate of 7% for the allowance. This will result in a reduction in allowance for a third of members currently receiving the ITD.

PSAC rejects this proposal as it would amount to a major concession for many members. Furthermore, moving from the current tiered rate to single percentage rate would prevent the ITDA from recognizing the varying levels of responsibilities, skills, and stress associated with inmate training held by current recipients of the allowance. The existing provisions recognizes the number of offenders that a worker is responsible for and the associated work (i.e., training plans, training assessment, incident reports).

New cap on travel costs for firefighters

The government is seeking a targeted kilometric cap for firefighters in situations where it requires a firefighter to travel back in for an overtime shift from off-duty status. No other classification or occupation group faces such limitations.

The union will not accept this proposal. The government’s attempt to shift the burden of costs associated with overtime on to workers is unreasonable.

The PIC will likely issue its recommendations by late winter.

PSAC will continue to mobilize its membership through increased workplace action, up to and including a strike, until a fair settlement is reached. Stay up to date with the latest on bargaining by signing up for email updates.

What is a Public Interest Commission?

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 SV group PIC report to be issued in winter 2020.

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

Government walks away from pre-election deal

PSAC rally in front of Parliament

The Liberal government has squandered one last pre-election opportunity to deliver a fair deal at the bargaining table for PSAC members, as well as to provide proper compensation for damages caused by the Phoenix pay system.

Approximately half of the 140,000 federal public service workers currently in negotiations returned to the bargaining table when the Program and Administrative Services (PA) unit, representing 71,000 PSAC members, resumed negotiations with Treasury Board on Sunday September 1.

The government refused to meet PSAC’s key demands despite six continuous days of bargaining. Their wage offer fell short of providing PSAC members – the largest group of workers in the federal public service – with even the equivalent wage increase that was negotiated with other federal bargaining agents.

The government once again also proposed to short-change PSAC members for the pain and suffering caused by Phoenix. After finally agreeing to cash compensation rather than days of leave, the government’s offer remained meagre and insufficient to recognize the damages inflicted on public service workers over the last four years.

“We had made it clear to Treasury Board that we would return to the bargaining table, but only to discuss an improved offer—one that includes annual wage increases that meet or exceed inflation, improved work-life balance – and equitable monetary compensation for the Phoenix nightmare,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward.

“PSAC came to the table in good faith, but instead of using this opportunity to deliver a fair deal for our members, the government walked away.”

Due to a federal election set to be called in the coming days, there will be no additional opportunities to return to the bargaining table until after the election is concluded. In the months after the election, negotiations will continue while PSAC undertakes preparations for possible strike action for the bargaining units listed below.

What PSAC units are currently negotiating new contracts with the federal government?

Nine PSAC units covering 140,000 workers in the federal government are currently negotiating new contracts. All the units below, except for Border Services (FB), are awaiting hearings at their respective Public Interest Commission (PIC).

Major government bargaining units

Click on your unit for the latest specific updates.

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

PSAC and government return to bargaining table to reach deal before election

Photo of PSAC members marching in a rally

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is resuming bargaining with Treasury Board for federal public service workers with the expectation that the government is committed to delivering a fair contract and proper compensation for the damage done to PSAC members by the Phoenix pay system. Continue reading

PA, EB, TC & SV bargaining: strike timeline

Bargaining

The Labour Board has set dates for Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearings for four Treasury Board bargaining tables:

Once a hearing has taken place, a PIC report is generally issued within 30 days. After the reports are issued, each bargaining unit will be in a position to strike if members vote to walk off the job. 

The PIC process began when bargaining reached an impasse in May.

In negotiations, the government insisted on a wage cut once inflation is factored in as well as a waiting period of up to 18 months after contract signing for retro pay. At the same time, the government rejected our proposals to improve working conditions by:

  • implementing market adjustments where pay discrepancies exist;
  • providing a full top-up for the new 18-month parental leave option;
  • reducing contracting-out and precarious work in the public service; and
  • better addressing mental health in the workplace.

What is a Public Interest Commission (PIC)?

By law, once impasse is reached, 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 then issues a report with recommendations for settlement. The recommendations are not binding.

Once the PIC releases its report, PSAC bargaining teams will reconvene to discuss the recommendations. Typically, PSAC’s teams and government representatives then return to the table to resume negotiations.

Will we strike?

Regardless of which party forms government after the fall federal election, PSAC will continue pressing for a fair deal that addresses members’ demands. However, if PSAC and the government are still unable to reach an agreement after the PIC reports are issued, members will have the opportunity to take a strike vote.  

History has taught us that the best way to avoid strikes is to prepare for one. Therefore, PSAC will ensure that strike training is offered to members in the coming months.

PSAC will also provide updates on the PIC process and other bargaining developments as appropriate.

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