Harper Conservatives' desperate appeal to public service workers before election

This morning, Pierre Poilièvre and other Conservative candidates in Ottawa made an announcement directed towards federal public service workers.

The press conference, along with an open letter from Stephen Harper to the public service, followed campaign announcements regarding the federal public service by the NDP and Liberals earlier this week.

“It is clear the Conservatives are worried,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President, “they know that many public service workers are looking to make different choices this election.”

The Harper Conservatives’ record when it comes to the public service has been devastating as it relates to the elimination of thousands of jobs and the attempt to eliminate sick leave by legislating away bargaining rights.

Silence on the cuts to public services

PSAC’s Vote to the Stop the Cuts campaign has revealed key information about the cuts and their cumulative effect. By 2015–16, these cuts will be more than $14.5 billion a year  

Despite this, the announcement today remained silent on these cuts. No mention was also made of closure of service centers across the country, including nine Veterans Affairs offices.

“Many essential public services have been threatened by reckless cuts by the Harper Conservative government, without regard for the safety and welfare of millions of Canadians,” said Benson.

“Our members are on the front lines and see how frustrated Canadians are. Government departments have been stripped bare and workers are struggling to maintain crucial services under very difficult circumstances.”

Sick leave

The government’s proposal on sick leave will force public service workers to choose between going to work sick or losing pay for basic necessities. The latest announcement made no changes to their proposal.

Bargaining rights

The Harper Conservatives made it clear with their last budget implementation act, Bill C-59, that they do not intend to negotiate, but simply impose their go-to-work sick plan.

Public service pensions

The announcement promises that no changes will be made to the pension plans of our members. However, the Conservative government is drafting legislation that will allow for the conversion of pensions from defined benefit plans to target pension plans in other federally-regulated workplaces.  Public service employees have every right to be concerned that what the Conservatives want for the federally-regulated private sector could be extended to federal employees.

“Actions speak louder than words. This government has consistently undermined and attacked the public service, not worked cooperatively with them, contrary to what Harper says in his letter,” said Robyn Benson.

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October 1, 2015
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