March 2015 Archives

Robyn Benson, PSAC

Healthy workplaces: crunch time

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This Thursday, March 19, stand up. Be seen. Be heard.

Do it for your workplace, for the valuable services to Canadians that you deliver—and for yourself. It’s time.

Today’s federal government workplaces are unhealthy and stressful, and Treasury Board wants to make them even worse. Members know that the Harper government wants to take away their sick leave and replace it with an inferior system run for profit by a private insurance company. If you want all the gory details, go here. It’s a system that will inevitably force sick employees who can’t make ends meet go into work, making the workplace unhealthy for everyone near.

We’re not just saying No to Treasury Board as we try to negotiate fair collective agreements. We’ve proposed positive union-management measures to make workplaces safer and healthier for all, by confronting harassment, discrimination, abuse, stress, unfairness and disrespect. That means, among other things, tackling the workplace stressors that are increasingly taking their toll on our members’ well-being. We want the government to take the escalating problem of mental health seriously, by adopting the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace.

On-going cutbacks have left a significant number of members utterly demoralized. As part of fixing our unhealthy workplaces, we are looking at the larger picture: the services we provide to Canadians. Our members have always taken pride in their work, but for many that has been replaced by a sense of uncertainty and insecurity as the cuts continue. There has been no transparency as the government continues to hack away blindly at the Public Service. Many of our members no longer have the tools and resources to do their jobs properly. That’s why we have also tabled proposals to help address problems of workload and to make jobs and services more secure.

The PSAC is not alone in this fight at the bargaining table by any means. We are working in solidarity with other federal public service unions. We’re planning together and mobilizing together.

That’s what this Thursday, March 19, is all about. Like it or not, you, the members, are on the front lines of this struggle. It’s your sick leave that’s up for grabs. It’s your workplaces that are getting more and more stressful. It’s your jobs that are now far more difficult or even impossible to do well. I’m looking forward to joining our members and members of other public service unions in Winnipeg this Thursday. Events will be taking place all across Canada. Find out what’s happening in your area on Thursday, or get in touch with your Local union representatives and help to organize your own events!

Our bargaining teams will be all the stronger with a show of support from our members across the country. Their fight is your fight.

We’re all in this together—and it’s time to send the government that message loud and clear.

Robyn Benson, PSAC

Women: the struggle continues

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On March 8, International Women’s Day, our Union will be celebrating past victories—and continuing the fight for a better future for women and girls.

The fact is, our women members have slipped back under the Harper government.

  • While accessible childcare has never been more important for working families, our members are losing access to on-site childcare centres.

  • Harper’s endless cuts to the federal public service are landing disproportionately on women. Since 2011, 25,214 positions have been eliminated. Another 5000 positions are predicted to be gone by 2017. Women are 55% of the public service, and fill 84% of the positions in administration. Many have lost or will lose their good paying jobs.

  • In 2009, the Conservatives took away the right of public service unions to help women fight pay discrimination—unbelievably, the PSAC can be fined $50,000 for doing so. In other words, this government has legislated inequality!

  • Women account for 69.5% of disability insurance claims. At present, Sun Life, which manages that program, has cut back on claim approvals. Now the government wants to abolish sick leave and replace it with short-term disability run by a private insurance company, but we are saying no.

  • There is a national outcry over missing and murdered Aboriginal women, but the Harper government is refusing to hold a national inquiry, preferring instead to spend millions of tax dollars fighting against equality for First Nations children.

Not a pretty picture. But in the past, we took on even greater challenges, and we triumphed. Paid maternity leave in the federal public service was won by rank and file PSAC members in the historic 1980 CR strike. Through grassroots mobilization, unceasing lobbying, and any legal challenges, we won the fight for pay equity federally, in the Northwest Territories, and for many other members we represent.

We’re not about to quit!

This is an election year, and the Harper government is on the defensive. Our teams are still fighting hard for us at the bargaining table, but it’s time for our Union as a whole to get involved in the political process. It’s time for a change in Ottawa, and that will take a lot of energy, commitment and plain hard work on the part of every one of us.

A good place to start would be a national political leaders’ debate on women’s issues. The last one took place more than thirty years ago, so it’s well overdue. The NDP and the Green Party have agreed to take part, but the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois have not as yet responded.

We’re up for that debate—and for the unfinished struggle to achieve full equality for women. If there was ever a time to get involved, it’s right now. Let’s not miss our opportunity to make a difference.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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