Our bargaining team resumed bargaining with SSO during the week of Sept. 11. The team started the week in caucus, where we continued to work on our proposals on hours of work and job security.
Following our last bargaining session in May, SSO informed us of a change in their lead negotiator. This was welcome news to us, as the employer had arrived at the bargaining table in May unprepared and disorganized. We are pleased to report a significant change in tone in this session of bargaining. The employer’s team was organized and respectful. Furthermore, all documents were provided in both official languages.
We began Tuesday’s bargaining session by answering the following question asked to us by SSO: Why do we care about being recognized as federal public servants?
Arbitrator Christine Schmidt made this very clear in her arbitral award during the last round of bargaining. She said:
Finally, contrary to SSO's submission, members of this bargaining unit are federal public servants. Cognizant that the interviewers and senior interviewers at SSO are part-time employees, without guaranteed hours of work, whose employer faces challenges given the nature of the work it undertakes, and considering the parties' submissions, the board's view is that these employees lag behind their federal counterparts.
There may be differences in our terms and conditions of employment compared to the core public service, but it does not mean that we, who work for SSO, deserve less. It is high time that our employer recognizes this and gives us the respect we deserve. We are pleased that SSO came back with a clear response: SSO employees are public servants!
The employer also provided us with a revised package of its proposals that was clearly explained (see attachment below). The employer has withdrawn some proposals, however, we are disappointed with some of the proposals it has maintained. The employer is seeking to limit the job security protections in the article on hours of work, and has proposed a reduction to paid maternity and parental leave periods.
The week ended with the employer providing us with a presentation and answering our questions on the assignment of work and scheduling. We intend to make proposals on these issues next time.
The next bargaining session will be Nov. 21 to 23.