PSAC unimpressed with mass government email on Phoenix offer

The federal government’s largest public sector union is calling a mass email to public servants about a settlement for the Phoenix pay system a 'pressure tactic' designed to push its members toward the deal.

Union says it's a pressure tactic to get its members to like an unfair deal

The Public Service Alliance of Canada declined the government's Phoenix settlement, which several other unions took on. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The federal government's largest public sector union is calling a mass email about a settlement for the Phoenix pay system a "pressure tactic" designed to push its members toward the deal.

The government has reached a settlement with several large unions to compensate workers with paid leave for the stress caused by Phoenix pay issues over the last three years.

For employees who have dealt with the system since the beginning, it means five days of leave. 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the largest union representing 140,000 public servants, rejected that deal. 

"Our members agree that the offer the government put on the table is nowhere near what they deserve," said PSAC president Chris Aylward.

This week the government sent an email to most public servants with the details of the deal and updates on their efforts to implement it.

The email includes a line noting PSAC members are not eligible, but also says the government would be willing to provide the same deal.

Aylward said that was clearly meant to persuade PSAC members they should get on board. 

Chris Aylward is president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. (Robyn Miller/CBC )

"It was some sort of a pressure tactic. That's the only thing I could see, because it certainly wasn't for information purposes," he said. 

Martin Potvin, a spokesperson for the Treasury Board, said they were simply trying to keep people informed. 

"The message sent was to inform employees that federal organizations are working to implement the first phase of the agreement, which is to allocate additional annual leave to current employees," he said.

Call for cash

Aylward said five days leave is not fair for what members went through with a system that failed to pay them properly. 

He said the offer is also better for higher paid workers than lower paid ones, because if they cash it out they will get different amounts. 

"We want a cash settlement," he said.

"It's equitable, everybody gets the same amount because everybody pretty much went through the same hell regardless if you were a higher paid employee or a lower paid employee."

Potvin said they settled on leave with the other unions in part to avoid having to put more stress on Phoenix with large cash settlements. 

Aylward said any employee who chose to cash out their paid leave will be putting a strain on Phoenix, so he doesn't buy that argument. 

Time running out

PSAC has yet to reach a deal on a new collective agreement with the government and has declared an impasse at the bargaining table, the first step toward a strike.

Aylward said he doesn't believe there is enough time to get either issue settled before the government goes into caretaker mode for October's election. 

"Our goal was to get a deal before the election, but we were not going to accept an inferior deal just to get there." 


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