PSAC members from the PA, SV, EB and TC groups came together for the first-ever virtual National Bargaining Conference April 26-29 to discuss the bargaining issues that will drive the next round of Treasury Board (TB) bargaining.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the way we live and work, exposed glaring inequalities for marginalized workers and raised other major issues that we need to address through collective bargaining.
Over the last few months, we’ve asked Treasury Board members to send us their feedback about how the pandemic has impacted them and put forward their proposals to help reshape the federal public service in the wake of COVID-19.
At the conference, delegates prioritized their proposals for the next round of bargaining that kicks off this summer and elected their respective bargaining teams.
Key bargaining issues discussed at the conference include:
We believe that provisions governing remote work will be most effective when they are negotiated into collective agreements. We must also ensure that remote work is free from remote surveillance and unreasonable performance expectations, that employers cover associated expenses, and that concerns relating to accommodations, ergonomics and health and safety are addressed.
New and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence are poised to play a bigger role in supporting government decision-making and the delivery of public services. We must be properly notified and consulted on these changes, and ensure that any impacts on members are addressed.
In every round of bargaining it is imperative that we maintain our hard-fought gains – and that includes making sure that we secure increased wages that reflect the rising cost of living, and our members’ hard work and dedication.
Many PSAC members are also experiencing a widening wage gap compared to their private-sector counterparts. To continue attracting strong candidates for public service jobs, we must negotiate compensation in line with that of workers in similar occupations in industry.
Contracting out and privatization
Contracting out and privatization of public services increases costs and risk to taxpayers, reduces quality of services, erodes the internal capacity of the public service, creates precarious work, and undermines initiatives that address pay equity and systemic racism.
We must tackle the alarming increase in contracting out of government work, including through temporary staffing agencies.
With the shift to remote work, we must secure the right of members to disconnect from electronic work devices outside of working hours. We must also expand leave provisions (e.g. 699 leave, family-responsibilities leave, sick leave) to improve work-life balance, which is especially critical for women, caregivers and those with disabilities.
We also need to negotiate flexible work options that allow members to shape their workday to match their personal and family responsibilities.
Classification and gender pay gaps
The outdated classification system used in the public service continues to be completely unresponsive to the work done by many PSAC members. It doesn’t meet the needs of this century’s workplaces and discriminates against work categories dominated by women. We must close the gender pay gap and move towards a gender-neutral classification system that properly measures the work that members do and fully complies with pay equity laws in Canada.
Systemic racism in the workplace
Systemic racism continues to prevent the public service from reaching its full potential. We must actively address the barriers and discrimination faced by racialized and Indigenous workers and ensure that all our members’ workplaces not only reject racism, but actively work to dismantle the structures that sustain it.
We also plan to call on the federal government to provide education to public service workers on the history of Indigenous peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Indigenous rights, Indigenous law, and Indigenous–Crown relations.
The current period of economic uncertainty emphasizes the need for a fairer workforce adjustment (WFA) process in case of layoffs. The current WFA process threatens more employees with potential displacement than is necessary and forces workers to re-interview for their own jobs, resulting in serious stress and other mental health impacts on affected members.
We must oppose all forms of precarious employment and ensure that all members have timely access to indeterminate employment.
Over the next few months, the elected bargaining teams for the PA, SV, EB and TC groups will meet and discuss the bargaining issues prioritized at the National Bargaining Conference and will work on a final package of bargaining demands that will be exchanged with the employer over the summer.
Make sure to keep your contact information up to date via the member portal to receive all the latest updates as we prepare to negotiate your next contract.