Ottawa

Contract deal reached with 30K federal public servants

The federal government has reached contract deals with more than 30,000 public servants that includes leave for victims of domestic violence and leeway for its implementation under the troubled Phoenix pay system.

Agreements with PIPSC, ACFO includes leeway for Phoenix, leave for domestic violence victims

Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, says the inclusion of 10 days of domestic violence leave could set a new standard across the country. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The federal government has reached contract deals with more than 30,000 public servants that includes leave for victims of domestic violence and leeway for its implementation under the troubled Phoenix pay system.

The agreements announced Tuesday cover some members of the Professional Institute of the Public Service (PIPSC), the Association of Canadian Financial Officers (ACFO) and a local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Those employees will receive a seven per cent raise over the four years of the contract.

If we can have a deal that we feel is fair, under a government that's working in good faith, we think it's worth taking that deal.- Dany Richard. ACFO president

Dany Richard, president of the ACFO, said the agreement was fair for everyone, and noted it was achieved without a standoff.

"It was done politely. It was professional, and that's how we're able to negotiate a deal that's fair for both parties involved," Richard said.  

ACFO members will get the seven per cent raise plus an adjustment to their wage grid that will increase the value of their contract by another one per cent. The seven per cent increase will come as two per cent in 2018 and 2019, and 1.5 per cent in 2020 and 2021. 

Richard said the union wanted to reach a settlement before the election, but not at the expense of a fair agreement.

"We know that with this government, things were working well. If we can have a deal that we feel is fair, under a government that's working in good faith, we think it's worth taking that deal," he said.  

Leave for domestic violence victims

PIPSC president Debi Daviau said waiting until after the election would have meant at least another year of delays to a contract that expired last fall, and would have made negotiations more difficult.

"It's hard to get people fair agreements when they're waiting two and three years past the deadline of their contract to get to those agreements," she said.  

The deals also include a provision for 10 days of leave for employees who are victims of domestic violence. Some provincial governments have already passed similar legislation granting victims five days of leave.

Daviau said domestic violence can become a workplace issue if abusive partners show up at the office.

"The government's done the right thing here, and you know, it's not an excessively widespread issue, so it's not all that expensive to address it," she said.

Association of Canadian Financial Officers president Dany Richard said the deal is a reasonable one. (CBC News)

Phoenix delay expected

Because the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system has struggled to implement new collective agreements in the past, these agreements give the employer more time to adapt.

The government will have 180 days from ratification to implement the new agreements — a longer grace period than usual. In exchange, workers will each receive a $400 lump sum payment.

If the government misses the 180-day deadline, workers will get an additional $50 every 90 days, to a maximum of an additional $450.

"We're still waiting for the last round of collective agreements to be implemented. So we know that they can't implement these agreements on time," Daviau said. "Basically, they had to pay to play."

Members of the three unions must vote to ratify their agreements.

PIPSC and the ACFO also agreed to a settlement offer with the government earlier this month to compensate workers for stress caused by Phoenix pay problems. Under that agreement, employees will be awarded 1.25 days of paid leave for each year they've had to deal with the system, which for most employees will mean an extra five days of vacation.

The largest civil service union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, rejected that offer.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story implied one contract covered all three unions mentioned. In fact, each of the three unions reached its own agreement with the employer, but they were negotiated together.
    May 28, 2019 1:53 PM ET

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said 60,000 workers are covered by the agreements, including all PIPSC members. In fact, only some PIPSC members are covered, and a total of only 30,000 federal public servants. The previous version also stated the government had a 150-day grace period to implement the contracts. In fact, the initial grace period is 180 days.
    May 28, 2019 1:49 PM ET

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