The TC bargaining team returned to Ottawa this week to continue the quest for a new collective agreement. This session was not business as usual because of the government’s tabling of the Budget Implementation Act: Bill C-59, attacking the collective bargaining rights of federal public service workers.
Bill C-59: an attack on our charter rights
The Bill authorizes Treasury Board to modify collective agreements to remove sick leave and impose a short and long term disability plan outside of collective agreements. The Bill will circumvent the Public Service Labour Relations Act as well as ongoing negotiations.
The Supreme Court established the right to collective bargaining as a charter right and we will defend that right using all means at our disposal.
In light of this recent attack, our bargaining teams have decided not to engage in the round of negotiations scheduled for May 12-14. We remain committed to negotiating our next collective agreement and have not walked away from the bargaining table. However, all members must understand the severity of the current situation, as presented by Bill C-59. The Charter of Rights provides protections to all Canadians. The Budget Implementation Act denies Charter rights to a specific group of Canadians. This bill is another example of this government’s disregard for human rights, unions and democracy. In this instance, they are going after our bargaining rights and sick leave – but what’s next? Who will be the next target of this government? These attacks must end and it’s up to all union members, our allies, family and friends to stand up and take action – now, and in the weeks and months ahead.
The bargaining teams came together instead to engage in strategic discussions and participate in political action to demonstrate our opposition to Bill C-59. Actions included picketing Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre’s office and being present in the House of Commons when the NDP raised a question about the Conservative’s disrespect for collective bargaining and our Charter rights. As well, PSAC’s recent National Triennial Convention voted to use up to $5 million to protect members’ rights and promote public services.
Bargaining teams will continue their discussions and further decisions on the next round of scheduled negotiations will be taken in due course.
We need to join together, stand up and get the message out that our Charter rights cannot be legislated away. Actions are being planned across the country. We are calling on all members to take part, as we need to send a strong message to this government that our collective Charter rights are to be respected. Please spread the word and stand up to defend your rights!
Our team also welcomed Claude Danik to the TC team as our new negotiator. Claude comes to PSAC from the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), where he was a negotiator and Executive Director. Claude is joining us at a critical time and we are very glad to benefit from his many years of experience.