PSAC fights for healthier workplaces in negotiations with government

Our union is in the midst of negotiations with the federal government on behalf of 100,000 members that work for Treasury Board. PSAC is putting forward concrete proposals that will make federal workplaces healthier. Because healthy workplaces mean better services for all Canadians.

These proposals lie in stark contrast to those of the Conservative government which has been fixated on cutting sick leave provisions, making it harder for workers to get better.

Our members have the first-hand knowledge needed to make federal workplaces healthier and more productive. Here’s how we want to do it:

Reduce stress

Frontline employees who work in call centres and at government service desks often assist people who are facing challenging issues such as the sudden loss of employment. PSAC is proposing a number of stress reduction measures that would help to provide the public with the level of service they deserve. This includes ensuring that there are enough workers providing services at any given time and providing workers with short breaks throughout the day in order to better address the challenge of these stressful interactions.

Prevent harassment

A key part of ensuring a healthy work environment is guaranteeing that it is free from harassment and discrimination. In particular, PSAC is looking to expand the discrimination grounds to include gender expression and identity. We are also seeking to expand the prohibition against harassment to include abuse of authority and other unacceptable behavior in the workplace. PSAC is advocating for whistleblowing protection so that workers are able to do the right thing in the workplace without worrying about retaliation.

Improve maternal health

PSAC is proposing that maternity reassignment provisions be amended to ensure that a worker does not have to choose between income and the health of her child or fetus. Accordingly, the PSAC is looking to expand the rights within the collective agreement to provide for leave with pay if the employer cannot reassign the pregnant or breastfeeding worker.

Improve conditions for shift workers

PSAC has thousands of members who work shifts. They provide services including firefighting, marine search and rescue, border security and crisis phone support. Shift work is physically and emotionally demanding. PSAC is proposing a number of measures to reduce the impact of shift work including increased notice for changes in shifts and greater predictability and stability in scheduling.

Ensure workers have the right to refuse unsafe work

We are proposing additional protection for members, so they can exercise their right to refuse dangerous work under the Canada Labour Code.

Fairness for injured workers

We want to make sure that people injured on the job are fairly compensated and that decisions made about workers’ compensation are not arbitrary but instead aligned with workers’ compensation boards.

Measures to improve work life balance

Key to having a healthy workplace is looking at what the employer and union can do together to ensure that workers are accommodated in their workplaces and empowered to take care of family responsibilities when needed.

  • The union is calling on the employer to work with us to address the chronic shortage of affordable child care in many parts of the country, to deal with the specific challenges of shift workers’ access to child care and to maximize the use of government buildings to create new child care centres.
  • We are seeking better leave provisions to allow workers the flexibility to deal with family obligations and emergencies.
  • We are also seeking provisions for members who must provide compassionate care to an ailing loved one.

By putting forward proposals that promote healthier government workplaces, we seek  to strengthen the services that our members provide to Canadians. Our members take pride in their jobs and will be able to do them better if working conditions are improved.

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November 12, 2014