The PSAC-Union of Taxation Employees (PSAC-UTE) bargaining team met with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) on January 21-24 to continue negotiations for a new collective agreement.
The team tabled a wage proposal two months ago that would ensure fair increases that keep up with the rising cost of living. However, the CRA opted not to make a wage counterproposal this week, and told the bargaining team it had no mandate to table anything beyond what was offered by Treasury Board in bargaining with PSAC.
Since the outset of bargaining, moreover, the PSAC-UTE bargaining team identified key issues that needed to be resolved in this round, including: evening & shift work, excessive term employment, work/life balance in call centres and job security. No serious progress has been made on any these issues, despite the fact that other federal employers have agreed to improvements in almost all of these areas since PSAC-UTE settled the last contract with CRA.
Negotiations began last June, and since then, little of substance has been accomplished, while the CRA continues to ask us for concessions.
In bargaining, the union provided the CRA with numerous examples of problems, from employees being forced to work evenings and nights to term employees spending years working for CRA and never being offered the opportunity to achieve permanency, while new hires get permanent jobs. The CRA has responded with either outright rejection of the solutions we proposed or, in some cases, it countered with proposals to make things worse. For example, it tabled a proposal that would give management the ability to schedule employees for even longer hours against their will.
On term employment, the lack of permanent jobs and other staffing concerns, the CRA won’t even discuss these at the table. As for call centres, the CRA’s proposals would not provide for significant improvements for members.
PSAC-UTE is determined to achieve a fair contract, one that protects hard fought gains and provides new rights and protections to members. PSAC-UTE members deserve to be treated with respect.
Given this lack of progress in negotiations, PSAC-UTE is declaring impasse and moving to the next step in the bargaining process prescribed by law—the establishment of a Public Interest Commission.
Under the Federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Act, either party may ask for the establishment of a Public Interest Commission (PIC) in the event that the parties reach impasse and are unable to reach an agreement. A PIC consists of a Chair named by the Labour Board and one representative from each side (union and employer). Once the Commission is created, its representatives set dates for a hearing in which both parties submit arguments and documentation in support of their respective positions. The PIC then issues a recommendation for settlement. The recommendation is non-binding. A PIC is not an arbitration board.
Be sure to go to ute-sei.org and psacunion.ca to see what PSAC-UTE has proposed, for more information, and to subscribe to regular updates. Also, should you have any questions, please contact your UTE Local President.
Updates will be provided as as things evolve.