Statement from Chris Aylward, PSAC national president
Speculation about an imminent announcement that would mandate all federal public service workers to return to workplaces a minimum of 2-3 days per week are deeply concerning and have serious implications for more than 165,000 PSAC members.
Let me be clear – any plans to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of our members’ employment and impose a mandatory return to offices would be an egregious violation of workers’ collective bargaining rights.
Remote work is a critical issue at the bargaining table this round not only for PSAC, but for hundreds of thousands of workers from all federal bargaining agencies.
On December 8, Policy Options reported Treasury Board is expected to introduce a new order outlining how many days workers would be expected to come into the office, but that the announcement has been delayed.
This news came as a shock to me and our union. PSAC immediately confirmed with Treasury Board that no blanket mandate around return to offices for federal public service workers is scheduled.
Treasury Board President Mona Fortier has committed to bargain in good faith with Canada’s unions. Imposing a mandatory and arbitrary return to the office for all federal workers would fly in the face of that commitment.
The uncertainty about remote and hybrid work and how it’s being unevenly applied across the federal public service is a major source of anxiety and frustration for workers.
That’s why PSAC is negotiating to enshrine remote work in our contracts; so that we can set rules around how these decisions are made, so that workers have a say in their working conditions, and have an avenue to advocate for themselves if they feel the policy is being applied to them unfairly.
There’s no doubt hybrid work is the way of the future for many public service workers, but the only place to make these decisions is at the bargaining table.
To the tens of thousands of workers who’ve continued to show up at their workplace day in and day out when times were tough to deliver essential services to Canadians, your efforts have kept Canada above water during the pandemic.
We continue to negotiate better working conditions for all workers – whether you work remotely or at your workplace full time – that will provide fair wages in the face of rising costs, safer, more inclusive workplaces and more job security.
It’s time for the government to deliver the respect you deserve, and to recognize remote work as a critical issue by bargaining in good faith.