Collective bargaining with Treasury Board resumed this week for 90,000 workers in the federal public service.
The following is a summary of the major demands put forward for the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Operational Services (SV) group, which includes employees responsible for the operation of federal buildings and services, including firefighters, tradesworkers, storespeople, cooks and hospital workers as well as lightkeepers and ships' crews across Canada.
Bargaining issues at-a-glance:
Catching up to the industry:
Many job classifications in the SV group are paid considerably less than their peers in similar sectors across Canada. The bargaining team is asking for a joint comprehensive pay study for all SV job classifications. The last pay study conducted for the SV group found significant gaps in wages between the SV group and their comparators.
The SV bargaining team is putting forward several proposals to improve their work-life balance and live happier, healthier lives, including:
- A reduction in their weekly hours of work to 37.5 hours, with no loss in salary or benefits. Many occupations in the bargaining unit continue to work between 40- and 42-hour work weeks, yet much of the Federal Public Service have a standard 37.5-hour work week;
- An increase to standby pay. Members feel their lives are put on hold when assigned to standby duty and want to be fairly compensated for their time;
- Several leave improvements, including family leave, bereavement leave and leave with income averaging.
No contracting out:
Public service jobs are under constant threat of privatization, especially for SV members working in food services for the federal government. Private contractors often lack sufficient training and are held to lower safety standards, jeopardizing public safety. The team is bargaining to enshrine no contracting out language in the collective agreement.
Recognizing workplace dangers:
The bargaining team is seeking several changes to injury on duty leave. As it stands, employees are granted injury-on-duty pay for a period set by the employer. The new language would ensure members are compensated for the period certified by the workers’ compensation authority in their province, which takes into account the severity of their injury and the time needed to recover.
The changes would also broaden the scope of injuries covered to include emotional trauma and many work-related illnesses, such as cancers for firefighters and other workers exposed to harmful chemicals in the line of duty.