Public service union frustrated, disappointed with bargaining
PSAC president says the Liberals are negotiating like the former Conservative government.
After a week at the bargaining table, the head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada says union negotiators are frustrated and disappointed with the Liberal government.
"They told our teams they don't have a mandate," said Robyn Benson, PSAC president. "Well, if you don't have a Liberal mandate, then you still have a Conservative mandate."
Benson said the government's agenda has changed very little since the Liberals were elected almost a year ago.
If you don't have a Liberal mandate, then you still have a Conservative mandate.- Robyn Benson, PSAC president
PSAC, which represents a majority of federal government workers, has been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement for 26 months. Benson said no future bargaining dates are planned at this time, giving the union time to prepare its next steps.
Benson said the PSAC remains open to negotiations, but only if government will make substantive changes to its offers. Among the top issues for the union are a negotiated sick leave program and a wage increase. So far the government has offered a wage increase of 0.5 per cent.
"Now I think we're kind of at the end of the road," Benson said. "We're going to talk to our members over the next couple of weeks about what transpired and if the government wants to negotiate meaningfully, they can call us."
PIPSC negotiations start next week
Meanwhile, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada gets set to sit down with Treasury Board negotiators next week. That union represents scientists, researchers and information technology professionals.
"Not unlike other unions, we are starting to grow thin on patience," said Daviau. "In the coming weeks, if it doesn't show progress, we'll need to declare a deadline on negotiations."
PIPSC wants the government to cut back on the outsourcing of jobs, including information technology positions, and it is calling for a reinvestment in scientific research.
Like the PSAC, it is also calling for a wage increase.
"We're making very legitimate and fact based arguments around appropriate wage increases," said Daviau. "It's still a contentious issue because the government hasn't moved anywhere beyond 0.5 per cent."
But Daviau hasn't lost confidence in the bargaining process just yet.
We are already delivering on our commitment to restore fair and balanced labour laws.- Treasury Board of Canada
"I think the government agrees with us that it's time, and we'll be working really hard to try to come to a negotiated settlement."
For its part, the federal government said it is "committed to reestablishing a culture of respect for and within the federal public service.
"We are already delivering on our commitment to restore fair and balanced labour laws," the Treasury Board of Canada said in a statement.
It added that it has tabled an improved sick leave and disability proposal that "aims to provide all employees with equitable access to adequate income support and services for absences due to illness/injury."