PA bargaining update: Protecting workers, defending sick leave

Workforce adjustment

During meetings with Treasury Board from November 18-20, our Bargaining Team proposed almost 30 amendments to the Workforce Adjustment Appendix; called for a moratorium on budget and program cuts at Veterans’ Affairs Canada; tabled amendments to several articles; and listened to a new version of Treasury Board’s plans to gut our sick leave provisions.

Our presentation on the WFA highlighted many of the problems we’ve experienced with the current appendix during the last three years, in which almost 25,000 PSAC members received affected notices.

The WFA process has caused widespread chaos in the workplace and seriously damaged morale in the public service.

Yet only 300 PSAC members were ultimately laid off, suggesting that staff reductions could have been achieved through attrition or by better use of voluntary departure incentives.

Our union is also proposing that when cuts do have to be made, seniority, widely-used in the private sector, is more fair and transparent than the current system in which members are forced to re-apply and compete for their own jobs.

All of our union’s bargaining teams made demands seeking to make the rules more transparent and reduce the anxiety that the process causes for workers.

Government “go-to-work-sick” proposal

The government presented a second sick leave proposal that would still force employees to work while sick.

It merely tweaks the proposal that Treasury Board tabled in September, which was soundly rejected by all PSAC teams. We will stand firm in our defense of sick leave and will not take concessions on this important issue.

Our bargaining team reminded Treasury Board that none of our more than 70,000 PA members identified sick leave provisions or the lack of a short term disability plan as a problem during the bargaining input process.

We told the employer that it is time for constructive discussions on the union’s proposals for a healthier workplace.

On other fronts:

We called for a moratorium on cuts to Veterans Affairs after learning that the backlog for providing requested services to veterans is now between six to eight months long and that in some cases veterans are dying before the department is able to deliver on its mandate.

The same day we presented this demand, the Globe and Mail revealed that the government has held back more than $1.1 billion in unspent funds at Veterans Affairs since 2006.

On November 20, Trans Day of Remembrance, Treasury Board agreed to the PA proposal to add gender identity and expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination in Article 19 – No Discrimination.

However, we were unable to sign off immediately on this article as we are still discussing with the employer the importance of adding political activity to the prohibited grounds as well.

We amended our definition of family in Article 2 to expand the language to include “and any person for whom the employee has formally declared responsibility.”

Treasury Board rejected our proposals to add its policies on pre-retirement transition, self-funded leave and leave with income averaging to the collective agreement.

We’re back at the table the week of January 12, 2015.

Please stay tuned for further developments and visit psacunion.ca/pa.

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