Update: Accommodations for Use of Force Limitations

July 5, 2018
Arming Initiative Featured Image, depicting the hand of a BSO on a holstered firearm

On July 4, 2018, the CIU National Executive, the National Human Rights Representative Brother Star, Labour Relations Officer Sister Randle and PSAC Legal Officer Sister Berry met with the CBSA for a G-1 meeting to discuss the Condition of Employment to be armed and the Duty to Accommodate those with use of force limitations.

Appendix G-1 of the FB Collective Agreement provides for “a joint consultation committee to discuss the strategy for the placement of employees hired prior to August 31, 2007 who are unsuccessful on the firearm training.” This committee had not met since the end of 2016.

CIU had called the meeting and at the outset, expressed profound concern with respect to the employer’s posting on Atlas announcing the phased approach to the National DTA Placement initiative. Some CIU members who saw themselves as targeted by the message were extremely distressed by its content.

The Employer, represented by the Vice President of Human Resources, Jacqueline Rigg, stated that approximately 95 Border Services Officers would soon receive letters confirming that the position they occupy no longer has arming as a condition of employment. The CBSA further confirmed that these members will continue to work as FB-03 Border Services Officers where they are currently assigned. This is considered “Phase 1” of the employer’s DTA initiative.

We recognize that our members have been concerned about occupying a position that includes a condition of employment they are unable to meet. Affirming that certain duties do not require use of force training and tools is a step towards transparency. Going forward, our members will know which positions have these requirements.

The CBSA informed the CIU that there are another 140 BSOs who are working away from the front line due to use of force limitations and who require a permanent “home”. There are also 104 BSOs who are currently working on priority projects that will have an end date.

The CIU repeatedly sought a commitment from the employer that these employees would be accommodated at their substantive group and level in their substantive work location. The employer reiterated a commitment to offer at level opportunities to these BSOs and to look at each case on an individualized basis. The CBSA further committed to looking at other government departments and, if requested by the employee, voluntary demotions. However, they stopped short of guaranteeing that those opportunities would not require relocation.

The consultation then focused on functions that members with use of force limitations could possibly perform without relocating. The CIU representatives stated that there is a lot of meaningful work that can be done remotely and provided suggestions to the employer. For example, CIU pointed out that in dealing with ongoing refugee claims, CBSA could alleviate the need to reassign BSOs to other locations as some aspects related to the processing of these claims can likely be done off site. BSOs working remotely might also help CBSA deal with high volume “flagpoling” conditions.

The union also pointed out that the level of attrition should open up accommodated positions for many members yet to be permanently placed in duties that do not require the use of force.

Most importantly, CIU believes that if CBSA truly considers all options available and examines the specifics for each location and region (e.g. anticipated retirements, current relocation requests) there will be no need to relocate any of the 244 BSOs.

The employer has yet to conduct an analysis of the project end dates, the bundling of functions or the assignment of work remotely but committed to doing so prior to the next G-1 meeting which will take place at the end of August.

We are hopeful that by working collaboratively with the employer, we will ensure that our members’ rights are protected and that the employer is held to the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act as well as the provisions of the collective agreement.

As you may know, the PSAC served Notice to Bargain on May 31, 2018. The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act sets out that parties must observe the terms and conditions of employment applicable to employees in the bargaining unit once Notice to Bargain has been filed. As the CIU pointed out at the July 4, 2018 G-1 meeting, at no time during the G-1 discussions held in 2015 and 2016 were the DTA assignments considered “temporary”.

On Friday June 29, 2018, the PSAC served notice to the employer that its new accommodation plan not only violated the agreements reached in 2015 and 2016, it was in violation of the freeze period. Should CBSA refuse to honour the union’s request to cease and desist, the PSAC will pursue all available legal avenues.

At this week’s G-1 meeting, the CIU requested that members be informed that they may be accompanied by a union representative when discussing these matters with the employer. Branch Presidents should be aware of the above-noted developments and be available or assign a representative from the Branch to be on hand to attend meetings between our members and management.

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