UPCE-PSAC team talks about psychological health issues at the bargaining table

Your bargaining team raised the issue of psychological health in the workplace with Canada Post this week. Of particular concern to the Union was the impact of organizational changes that have the potential to negatively affect the psychological health of members. For example, the Corporation is declaring positions as being surplus, is not filling some vacant positions, and plans to eliminate the positions of those employees who take the early retirement incentive.

Any one of these changes is bound to have an impact on members who remain in the workplace. Colleagues and friends disappear, but their work remains and is redistributed. When the redistribution of work and the stress of keeping up with unchanged productivity goals are added in, the cumulative effect is a potent hazard to the psychological health and well being of members who are still in the workplace.

The concern for the psychological health of employees in the workplace is growing across the country. Recently, the Mental Health Commission of Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Standards Association released a national standard for psychological health in the workplace. This is a voluntary standard that employers are encouraged to adopt in developing a systematic approach to minimize or eliminate risks to the mental health of its employees in the workplace.

This approach would include identifying organizational factors that could contribute to stress in the workplace, and developing programs and practices that support the mental well-being of everyone at work. There is much evidence and research to show that not only do employees benefit, but that organizations benefit as well, through the reduced benefit costs and productivity gains that come from having a healthy and engaged workforce.

The Union proposed adding the concept of “psychological well-being” to the Health and Safety article in the Collective Agreement, and also proposed to the Corporation that they sign a Letter of Understanding with the Union to form a national workplace committee to begin the work of adopting this important new standard at Canada Post.

While the Corporation may already be doing some things that provide support to employees in the area of psychological health (having an EAP, for example), the Union feels very strongly that much more can be done, and needs to be done by your employer. Psychological Health and Safety must be treated in the same way as Physical Health and Safety, prevention is key to building a safer workplace.

Your bargaining team will continue to put this very important issue forward at negotiations, and hopes that the Corporation will agree that they cannot afford to ignore the impact of psychological health in the workplace as it moves forward in transforming itself into a profitable operation once more.

15.01 Policy Statement

The parties recognize the right of an employee to working conditions which show respect for her health, safety including psychological and physical well-being.

The Corporation and the Union recognize that the maintenance and development of the employee's general well-being constitute a common objective.

As a result, all efforts shall be deployed to prevent and correct any situation and any conduct liable to compromise the health and safety of employees or deteriorate the work environment.

Memorandum Of Agreement

The parties confirm their commitment to work on the mutual goal of reviewing, adopting and implementing the Canadian Standards for psychological health and safety in workplace.

Within sixty (60) days of the signing of the collective agreement, the parties shall establish a National Working Committee designated as the Joint Psychological Health and Safety Working Committee composed of three (3) representatives selected by the Union and three (3) representatives selected by the Corporation.

The mandate of the Committee will be to review the voluntary Canadian standards with the goal of identifying and implementing appropriate initiatives that will maintain and promote workplace psychological safety in the key areas of prevention of harm, promotion of health and resolution of incidents or concerns.

Either party may replace one of its representatives on the Committee at any time.

The Committee shall determine its own procedures

The Corporation shall pay all salary and reasonable expenses of the representatives

The Committee will meet quarterly or more often as agreed to by the Committee

 

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February 8, 2013
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