April 2015 Archives

Robyn Benson, PSAC

Time to stand up!

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On Tuesday, Finance Minister Joe Oliver presented a budget that promises even more cuts in public services when they are needed more than ever, benefits the wealthy yet again—and threatens to suck the life out of our collective bargaining rights.

The government has announced that, if it can’t negotiate the confiscation of our sick leave, it will legislate it away instead. In other words, it intends to pre-determine the outcome of the collective bargaining process—to make that process a sham. Can you think of any better example of bargaining in bad faith?

Moments after the budget came down, I started to receive messages from PSAC members and fellow citizens urging us not to give up. Believe me, I have no intention of doing so.

The government’s threats against the PSAC will be a front-and-centre topic at our Triennial Convention next week. That’s going to be the start of a membership consultation to determine what steps we’ll be taking to respond to the government’s plans. Recent court decisions have given constitutional protection to collective bargaining rights and we will make sure to find a way to have those rights respected.

Our members and our bargaining teams will not be intimidated by these threats. We will do what has to be done, whatever it takes.

Sick leave has been a top priority for our Union. We will continue to defend it strongly, as our members expect. The government’s “go to work sick” plan is a giant step in the wrong direction. It’s bad for members who fall ill, bad for their co-workers, and bad for Canadians who depend upon their services.

And now our very right to negotiate a collective agreement is under attack.

The Harper government has demonstrated since it was first elected in 2006 that it will keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing, until Canadians stand up and say No. Have we not all reached that breaking point by now?

Robyn Benson, PSAC


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Robyn in Winnipeg.jpg

March 19 was a Day of Action to push our bargaining demands for safe and healthy workplaces. Members across the country responded to the call with enthusiastic demonstrations of support. I joined one of the demos in my home town of Winnipeg.

One week later, PSAC signed a memorandum of understanding at the bargaining table with Treasury Board negotiators that marks an excellent beginning. To reverse the escalating incidence of mental health issues in federal workplaces, a joint task force will be struck to find ways to address the problem. Among other things, the task force will address how the national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace can best be achieved within the public service. This is the standard we’ve been pressing the government to adopt for some time.

I’m proud of our members and proud of our hard-working bargaining teams. Our bargaining teams are still labouring to achieve the contracts our members deserve.

We should celebrate our success in getting the Employer to recognize that the workplace is literally making our members sick and in negotiating a collective agreement provision to address the problem.

Our win was a collective one. Our members came out on March 19, along with members from other federal public service unions. This helped our bargaining teams forge ahead at the bargaining table.

But let’s not be tempted to rest on our laurels. This was a great step forward for us. However we all know what lies ahead. The path to a new contract is full of bumps and boulders. So what is needed? The same determination that we (all of us) used to win the agreement on addressing mental health. The same commitment by members, leaders and bargaining teams to see the bargaining process through to a successful conclusion.

We’re newly energized. And if this recent victory is any indication—you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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

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