The TC bargaining team returned to Ottawa this week to resume negotiations for our next collective agreement. As this would be the first meeting between the team and the new Liberal government, we were unsure of what to expect. Would the Liberals’ claims of respect for federal public service workers be realized at the bargaining table? Would the employer have a new mandate? If so, what would it be?
We are disappointed to report that “sunny ways” were not in evidence at the bargaining table this week.
The Liberal government cannot simply recycle the old mandate of the Conservatives. If they are serious about respecting federal public service workers, they need to revise their mandate and come to the bargaining table ready and willing to improve the TC collective agreement.
We will not trade away sick leave
Treasury Board negotiators tabled a proposal similar to that of the previous Conservative government, that would replace our existing sick leave. It takes away existing rights and leaves members worse off. The proposed short term disability plan would fall outside of the collective agreement and allow the government to make unilateral changes any time.
We remain open to improvements on sick leave but we will not negotiate concessions or agree to any proposal that forces members to choose between losing pay or going to work sick.
Fair bargaining and Bill C4
We are pleased to see the government move to repeal Bill C59 (Division 20), but there is still another unfair labour law on the books: the unconstitutional changes to labour laws governing the collective bargaining process under C4 remain a key issue.
Fairness and safety
Our team persevered and engaged in discussions with the employer that advance fairness and safety in the workplace. We revisited our demand to improve the definition of family, by removing discriminatory language and expanding the application so that members can better use their leave provisions in the collective agreement. We discussed improvements to our anti-discrimination and anti-harassment articles, to include prohibitions on favouritism, bullying, and workplace violence.
Health and safety
We also pushed the employer to consider our demand on health and safety. Building on the success of our Memorandum on Mental Health in the Workplace, we want to ensure the full participation of health and safety committees and equip members with the tools they need for protection in the workplace.
We tabled our demand on maternity-related reassignment or leave, calling on the employer to provide safe accommodation or paid leave for pregnant and nursing workers.
Hours of work
We sought to engage the employer in a discussion on hours of work. The team tabled a demand calling for an increased minimum rest period between shifts. Currently, some shifts encroach on the weekends of our shift workers, robbing them of the rest they need. We are trying to protect against day workers being made into shift workers (and vice versa) indiscriminately by the employer.
Our team is also looking to improve the compensation paid to members reporting to work and being made to wait for a vessel. Members’ time is precious and deserves proper compensation when work infringes on rest time.
We began discussions with the employer on allowances we are seeking for the membership. As we told the employer, the unique nature of the work performed by many TC members is not adequately captured by our classification system.
Changes to our occupational group structure, definitions and classification system will not be occurring anytime soon. The employer confirmed that no progress has been made since 2014 toward updating the TC classification system, and there are no plans to advance this work.
Allowances are therefore required, to compensate members for the dangers, hazards and difficulties experienced in their work. This week, we tabled the following allowances:
- Armed boarding allowance
- Dirty work allowance
- Firearm allowance
- Flight pay – isolated areas
- Flight pay – marine aerial reconnaissance team
- Height pay
- Nuclear emergency response team allowance
- Transportation allowance
We also tabled improvements to the allowances paid in:
- Appendix K
- Appendix R
- Appendix X
Please note that these are only the first batch of allowances. We will be pursuing others, including expanding the terminable allowances paid to TC members. The team will share further details as we progress on our monetary demands.