Politics

Public service unions go to court over federal payroll problems

A dozen unions representing federal government workers have filed a notice of application in Federal Court to force the federal government to pay its employees properly and on time.

With fresh complaints about pay problems, unions head to Federal Court over persistent payroll glitches

Some Parks Canada employees who are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada have not been paid since April when the federal government added Parks Canada to a new payroll system it's been rolling out since February. (Parks Canada)

A dozen unions representing federal government workers have filed a notice of application in Federal Court to force the federal government to pay its employees properly and on time.

Five months after the government launched its problem-plagued pay system called Phoenix, civil servants are still getting short-changed or not paid at all. The most recent wave of complaints comes from among 2,000 recently hired seasonal workers at Parks Canada.

"Some of those seasonal workers started back as early as April of this year and they have yet to receive a pay cheque," said Chris Aylward, vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Some employees cashed in RRSPs or took out loans to make ends meet. Managers in some departments helped out staff by cutting emergency cheques or paying people from the office petty cash

Aylward said enough is enough.

"Today we are filing a notice of application with the Federal Court in respect to the pay problems that we've been having with the Phoenix pay system. Basically we view this as a breach of the employers' duty to provide timely and accurate pay for public service employees."

Public Services and Procurement Canada is responsible for Phoenix, but the department has not responded to a request for comment from CBC News.

It recently hired more people at its Miramichi pay centre, brought in outside experts and announced a temporary pay centre in Ottawa to handle fallout from the switchover.

'She's going to have to put people in those departments hand-writing paycheques.' - Chris Aylward, PSAC vice-president

Even so, problems persist among employees who aren't working traditional office hours or those who have earned top-up pay, bonuses or who are coming back to work after a leave of absence. 

By going to court, Aylward said, the hope is that Public Services Minister Judy Foote will be ordered to do whatever is necessary to ensure staff are paid while the department sorts out Phoenix.

"She's going to have to put people in those departments hand-writing paycheques, because we cannot have our members go months, literally, without pay," Aylward said.