Ottawa

Public servants angry over pay problems deluge minister with mail

More than 1,000 federal workers have sent letters to the minister of public services about how the new pay system is affecting their lives after the Public Service Alliance of Canada launched a letter writing campaign late last week.

Union says IBM, creator of new pay system, has to share the blame for pay problems

Hundreds of public servants who have had problems being paid are writing letters to Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote about the issue. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

More than 1,000 federal workers have sent letters to the minister of public services about how the new pay system is affecting their lives after the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) launched a letter writing campaign late last week. 

The government brought in its new Phoenix pay system in February and since then, workers from several federal departments across the country have complained about their pay cheques being wrong, late or that they haven't been paid at all.

Chris Aylward, vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says the federal government needs to shut down its Phoenix payroll system until it's fixed. (Julie Ireton/CBC )
Chris Aylward, vice-president of PSAC, said the letters are giving voice to workers and their stories of financial difficulties.

"We've had more than 1,100 letters sent, explaining the impact," said Aylward. "Families having to use Visa cards for everyday purchases. Who's paying the interest on that when the government can't pay the employees?"

Aylward said other workers are telling the government their utilities have been cut off and some are having to borrow money from families.

More workers hired to address backlog

Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote said late last week the government will hire 100 new workers at a centre in Gatineau, Que., to help manage the pay problems. She said this temporary centre is expected to be up and running this month and will remain in place until the backlog issues are addressed.

"We welcome certainly the minister's acknowledgement that there are now problems with Phoenix. That's a welcoming sign for us," said Aylward. But he noted that IBM — the company that sold the multi-million-dollar system to the government in the first place — also needs to take some of the blame.

"This is an IBM off-the-shelf piece of software that they're trying to adapt to every single pay anomaly within the federal government. I guess they were told by IBM we can do that. And obviously you can't," said Aylward.

Foote said she has also asked Canada's auditor general to examine the planning for Phoenix and its implementation to see what went wrong.

The government's pay modernization project created 550 new jobs at the public service pay centre in Miramichi, N.B.

now