Robyn Benson, PSAC

Stakeholders (Updated)

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Here comes Bill C-60, cited predictably as “the Economic Action Plan 2013.” At 125 pages, it pales in comparison to the 452-page monolith that was, yup, the Economic Action Plan 2012. Shorter, than, but not necessarily gentler—at least not for the many, many thousands of Canadians who work for Crown Corporations, including the CBC and Canada Post. Bill C-60 extends Treasury Board’s jurisdiction as wages and benefits police, not just for workers whom it employs, but for as many as 200,000 other workers as well.

Bargaining, never easy in any sector, just got way more complicated, and likely more confrontational as well, because a third party with no day-to-day understanding of the workplace or its culture will get to pull the strings during the collective bargaining process.

Perhaps emboldened by its new-found role Treasury Board, has given the Canada Border Services Agency the authority to usurp the normal, proper and appropriate bargaining process, and email a “Final Offer” to PSAC members employed in the FB bargaining group. That this was done in the dead of night on April 29th added insult to considerable injury.

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The documents tabled in the House and emailed to our FB members on Monday simultaneously indicated what Budget 2013 as tabled in the Commons on March 21 really means for federal public workers, and put to the test the government’s flowery assertion that it “will be consulting with key stakeholders.”

It’s just a guess, but maybe unions and union members are not really seen as “stakeholders” when it comes to dictating terms and conditions of employment and the contents of collective agreements. Or at least not in the usual sense. It’s as though the Harper government speaks a language that only it can understand.

UPDATE: (May 8) Last week we received word that Treasury Board and the Canadian Border Services Agency were planning to ask Minister James Moore to order a mandatory membership vote on its “final offer.”

This would be unprecedented—we are still awaiting a report from a Public Interest Commission, which heard from both sides last December. Our members aren’t even in a strike position until this Fall.

I spoke with Treasury Board President Tony Clement last Wednesday, and obtained agreement for a meeting of the two sides, on May 6, to attempt to move forward. We met, and the management side did make some minor modifications to its “final offer.” Details of their position may be found here: our response to their list of takeaways is here.

A clear indication was given to us that the government will indeed force a vote at this point, without further negotiations, or the report of the Public Interest Commission. This isn’t bargaining in good faith. It’s naked contempt—for the hard-working bargaining team, for our FB members, for our union, and for the collective bargaining process.

Yesterday I wrote to Minister Moore asking for a chance to be heard before this extreme measure is considered.

But such threats are part and parcel of how this government does business. Everything is about power and control. The effective seizure of collective bargaining from Crown corporations is a further example, addressed in this excellent editorial. Want a political CBC, rather than an independent one? You’ve got it.

We, and our sister unions in federal departments and Crown agencies, will continue to speak out and keep our membership fully informed. But what we do about this assault on labour rights will, in the final analysis, be up to you—the members.

“I am not here to take marching orders from union bosses,” says Pierre Poilievre, parliamentary secretary to the transport minister. Well, neither are you. Our union history proves that PSAC members have been more than capable of marching all by themselves when they deem it necessary. And by the looks of things, you may find yourselves deciding one of these days that you have to do so again.

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on May 8, 2013 8:20 AM.

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