During the first day of mediation, the PSAC-UTE bargaining team had no choice but to break off talks with Canada Revenue Agency over their refusal to budge on our remote work proposal, a key issue for members at the table this round.
Since negotiations started last January, our bargaining team has made clear that access to remote work is a critical issue for our members. We were prepared to negotiate with the employer, but new language in our collective agreement on this issue is critical, and no progress was made at the bargaining table.
When CRA announced that changes were being considered on the issue of remote work last spring, we indicated we would file a complaint with the Federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) over any unilateral changes, as the law clearly states that an employer cannot make changes to members’ working conditions while in negotiations with the union. We insisted that CRA must consult with us over any changes going forward. Until recently, they complied.
This summer, we declared impasse in negotiations over the employer’s refusal to deal with remote work and other key issues at the bargaining table, like hours of work and fair wages. A Public Interest Commission (PIC) has been established and hearing dates are set for January 27 and February 20. In the meantime, both parties agreed to meet in mediation December 20-22.
CRA announces return to office mandate before holidays
Last week, on the eve of mediation and a week before the holidays, CRA and Treasury Board announced – without warning or negotiations with PSAC or UTE – that members will be required to return to the office in the new year, forcing workers to scramble to make child care arrangements and potentially relocate if they’ve been working remotely.
The government is trying to impose a flawed hybrid work plan on our members while they’ve adamantly refused to provide a wage offer for workers – meanwhile, CRA has doled out more than $29 million in bonuses to managers during the pandemic.
Our bargaining team called on CRA to rescind its hybrid work plan and instead bargain in good faith on the issue. When the employer refused, we declined to continue mediation.
Our team is committed to good-faith negotiations, but this announcement is another sign of disrespect towards our members from CRA and the government. We are filing a freeze complaint to halt the government’s hybrid work plan with the FPSLEB, and will now prepare for the PIC hearings next month.
Strike votes next step for a fair contract
It’s becoming clear holding strike votes to secure a strike mandate from PSAC-UTE members is the only way we’ll make real gains at the bargaining table. We will be in touch with members in the new year about next steps as we continue to ramp up our pressure on the government.
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