Vancouver workers mark public service week with Phoenix pay system protest
'We’d rather have a paycheque, not a hot dog,' says union leader
Federal public service workers rallied at the Vancouver Art Gallery Friday to voice their grievances about the problematic Phoenix pay system.
Nearly a hundred people gathered to call out the federal government for ongoing issues with their computerized payroll system, which has caused pay issues for tens of thousands of public servants.
"I would just like the government to fix this system, and/or get rid of it completely, because it's not working, it's not paying the members," said Virginia Vaillancourt, who represents members of Veteran Affairs Canada.
"They're going to find that one day those federal public service employees that provide public services are not going to be sitting in the desks."
Federal public service workers calling on the government to fix the Phoenix pay system <a href="https://twitter.com/cbcnewsbc">@cbcnewsbc</a> <a href="https://t.co/ewyHTs42Sf">pic.twitter.com/ewyHTs42Sf</a>—@CoryCorreia
Workers and union leaders have been holding rallies and demonstrations across Canada this week as it coincides with national Public Service Week.
"It's supposed to be an appreciation, and you know so they give you a piece of cake, they give you a hot dog ... And what we're saying is we'd rather have a paycheque, not a hot dog, thank you very much," said Robyn Benson, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
"Unless you're going to pay my mortgage or you're going to put food on the table for my kids, you know, this isn't cutting it."
The new pay system was implemented in early 2016, and since then workers have had issues receiving their pay on time — or at all.
Benson says bugs in the software are the reasons for the pay issues, especially when workers have job changes, work overtime, or take maternity leave, to name a few.
Vaillancourt assists workers who have not received their pay for various reasons, and says workers are left in a lurch on a bi-weekly basis, wondering what will show up on their pay slip.
"Members' lives depend on it. We have lots of mental health issues, we have families that the conflict of financial difficulties is causing rift," she said.
"So the government is having a very unfortunate impact on members' mental health Canada-wide."
She says some members are being forced to apply for emergency payment assistance and access food banks, and some are in the process of losing their homes.
Benson says workers are appealing to their members of parliament for assistance, but if that fails they will pursue job action.
She says action by Canada Border Services workers could be the first step.