Do you have a workforce adjustment committee in your department or agency?

Workforce adjustment committees should always be joint

The Workforce Adjustment  Appendix specifies  that  departments  and organizations  must establish  Workforce Adjustment Committees to manage workforce adjustment situations.  The union believes that  they should always be composed of union and management representatives or, in other words, joint.

Past practice and many collective agreements specify that they should be joint. Article 21 of Treasury Board collective agreements specifies that upon request of either party, the parties shall consult meaningfully at the appropriate level about contemplated  changes in conditions  of employment or working conditions.  Joint Workforce Adjustment committees are consistent with this obligation  and with the employer's obligation  to consult as completely as possible, as soon as possible and throughout the whole process.

They are also consistent  with  the law. The Public Service Labour Relations  Act says that consultation committees consisting  of both the bargaining  agent and the employer must be set up regarding issues relating to the workplace that affect  employees. It's hard to conceive of an issue that affects  employees more than potential job loss.

Standing Workforce  Adjustment Committees

Some PSAC components have standing  Workforce Adjustment  committees  that  are dedicated  to addressing  adjustment and employee transition  issues all the time. Since the WFA outlines a proactive process for dealing not just with job loss and relocation but with potential job loss and relocation, standing WFA committees are ideal.

Standing committees are instrumental  in good human resource planning and to deal proactively around important issues like training  needs, the obligation  to eliminate  contracted work in the workplace and other issues to minimize the impact of a WFA situation when it does occur.

Depending on the complexity of the WFA situation  and the size and geographic span of the department  or agency, there may also be a requirement for regional or local WFA committees.

Although term employees aren't covered by the WFAA, a standing  Workforce Adjustment  Committee  is a good forum where management and the union can work to ensure that term employees are treated in a fair and transparent  manner.

Although standing WFA committees are the ideal, to date only a few departments have agreed to this practice. Therefore it is extremely important  for PSAC components to set up joint committees as soon as the possible threat of workforce adjustment is announced.

The 2011 federal budget announcement of cross-departmental cuts and the implementation of individual departmental cuts that began in previous budgets are ample evidence that employees are in potential  WFA situations. Workforce Adjustment Committees should be formed immediately if they aren't already in place.

Some departments  and agencies may resist their obligation  to form committees,  either because they believe it's not necessary until  actual job loss is imminent  or because they would rather act on their own without the union. The union believes that when this occurs the employer is not meeting its obligations and must be challenged.

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November 28, 2011
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