PSAC/UCTE has filed for conciliation with Human Resources Development Canada, with regard to its dispute with NAV Canada. A Notice of dispute under Section 71 of the Canada Labour Code was filed on August 31, and hand delivered to Elizabeth McPherson, Director General of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service of the HRDC.
Under dispute are the following articles: Article 2 - Interpretation and Definition; Article 4 - Union Recognition; Article 7 - Recognition; Article 11 - Restriction on Outside Employment; Article 15 - Joint Consultation; Article 16 - Classification Grievance Procedure; Article 21 - Discipline; Article 14 - General Holidays; Article 25 - Vacations; Article 26 - Sick Leave; Article 28 - Other Leave With or Without Pay; Article 29 - Pay Administration; Article 30 - Hours of Work; Article 31 - Overtime; Article 32 - Shift Premiums; Article 35 - Traveling Time; Article 36 - Call Back Pay; Article 37 - Standby; Article 38 - Reporting Pay; Article 41 - Severance Pay; Article 42 - Part-time Employees; Article 43 - Seniority; Article 44 - Staffing; Article 45 - Training; Article 46 - Statement of Duties; Article 47 - Classification; Article 48 - Employment Security; Article 49 - Technological Change; Article 51 - Duration; LOU #1 - Pension Plan; LOU #2 - Holding Rates of Pay; LOU #3 - Work Days at Head Office; LOU #6 - Equal Pay; LOU # 7 - Departure Incentive Program; Appendix A - Rates of Pay; Appendix B - Temporary Employees; Appendix C-1 to C-5 - Nav Canada NJC agreements; Appendix D - List of Arbitrators.
When one takes a look at this list, one would think this is a situation where a new agreement is being hammered out. Unfortunately, this is not the case. In fact, this is the second agreement the UCTE is attempting to work out with NAV Canada. This should be a time of slight modifications and language improvements. Instead, it would appear that NAV Canada is attempting to rewrite the Collective Agreement, diminish the benefits our members currently enjoy, and eliminate employment security.
We have met with the employer on a number of occasions, including October, and December of 2000, January, March and June of 2001. None of these meetings resulted in anything concrete or substantial being agreed to. NAV Canada appeared to be reluctant to discuss the issues that were most important to bargaining team members. This is an employer that has decimated its regional structure, and laid waste to what was once a substantial workforce.
The goal seems to be the elimination of all employees by contracting out work. Whatever wage increases result from a new NAV Canada agreement will matter little if there are no employees left to benefit from them. The list of outstanding items is revealing when you realize that NAV Canada cannot come to terms on such issues as Definitions and Recognition. We consider Definitions and Recognition to be simple clauses that, usually, are easily agreed to.
Since NAV Canada has not been able to come to agreement on such simple contract items as Definitions and Recognition, we feel that we are far away from meaningful discussion on the major issues.
Please show your support for your bargaining team members. Be sure to return to this site for further updates on the negotiation process.
Stephen Dunsmore UCTE Pacific RVP
IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND INFORMATION
To begin, all bargaining team members were contacted and advised by the PSAC of the recall to Ottawa. Without other specific information, we believed the purpose of the recall was to resume negotiations with the employer. On arrival, we were advised that the first order of business was to participate in an all tables meeting initially scheduled to begin September 14th. Unfortunately, due to the shutdown of air travel and the limited return to service following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, all team members were unable to arrange suitable travel arrangements that supported the schedule, and, as a result, the combined teams meeting was rescheduled for Saturday, September 15th. You should be clear that prior to the all tables meeting, no bargaining team member had been provided with any information explicit to the recall to Ottawa other than what was contained in the PSAC Press Release dated September 12th , specifically that: "…the PSAC and Treasury Board have made a decision to return to the bargaining table. Both Parties have indicated a willingness to modify their position in a number of areas…" In the meeting, team members for all tables were advised that our National President, Nycole Turmel had met directly with the President of the Treasury Board, Madame Lucienne Robillard, in an effort to get back to the bargaining table. You should also be apprised that there were two meetings between the Alliance and Treasury Board Presidents (September 10th and 12th) and the result of those meetings is the substance of the employer’s proposed terms of settlement for Table 3 with highlights as follows: An economic offer of 3.2% for the first year, 2.8% for the second year and 2.5 % for the third year; Two additional days off with pay (one personal day, one volunteer day); 7 million dollar joint training budget; and A Memorandum of Understanding concerning the status and job security of term employees. In addition, you should also be aware that President Turmel made a personal commitment to recommend acceptance of this package to all four negotiating tables. You should also be clear of the following issues: At no time did the representatives at Table 3 request members of the PSAC National Executive to intervene in our negotiations with the employer; and No consultation with the bargaining teams occurred prior to our National President’s meeting with Madame Robillard; and
All Table Members were advised of the following: This was the employer’s final offer; The employer advised Nycole that failing the acceptance of this offer, they (the government) would introduce legislation ordering our return to work; The tables had three options to consider. They were: put the offer out with a recommendation to accept; put the offer out with a recommendation to reject; or don’t put the offer out at all and run the risk of being legislated back to work. There was a great deal of discussion, however, in the end, it was apparent our National leadership was strongly recommending acceptance. The decision of what to do next was then turned over to the individual bargaining tables for their discussion and deliberation.
As you might well imagine, initial discussions at Table 3 involved an immediate assessment of our current position and an analysis of the options and implications of each of those options. This was no small task, however, in the end, your bargaining table representatives decided to carry on with your original program of demands. This was, after all, the reason we all signed, to negotiate in the best interests of the members represented at Table 3. Having reached that conclusion, the next was relatively simple. If we are to continue, with any possibility of negotiating, we need to reject the terms of settlement that will be presented to you shortly. We have been advised that Table 3 representatives will have an opportunity to provide information to you prior to casting your ballots. You should also be aware that your bargaining representatives do not hold the same doomsday opinion as expressed by others within our union. We have fought the good fight, stayed together and succeeded in receiving the best Conciliation Board report of any of the bargaining tables. We would very much appreciate the opportunity to negotiate to the recommendations of that report. We ask that you give us that opportunity with a vote to reject.. None of us has a crystal ball and cannot, with any certainty, predict the outcome of a "no" vote, other than, having an opportunity to finish this off without that terrible taste in our mouths. What we do know, a "yes" vote will certainly bring this round of negotiations to a close without Table 3 members receiving either the compensation or respect we all deserve.
Your TABLE 3 Bargaining Team.
Jerry Stock and David Lee
UCTE is encouraging its members to show their support of Ontario CEP members who are employees of Petro-Canada. CEP workers went on strike in April, 2001; the Company has settled with the BC and Alberta units in May, 2001, but refused to settle with the Ontario units. The Company has decided to prolong the strike by demanding the following concessions: longer work weeks, layoffs, wage cuts and wage freezes, reduced complements and reduced safety standards.
CEP has offered to accept the same deal as the other bargaining units, and was turned down. The Canadian Labour Congress has declared a national boycott of all Petro-Canada products. The CEP wants to send a clear message to the company that workers in Ontario deserve fair treatment and a settlement that ended the strike in the West.
You should be aware the job action taken to date has had an amazing effect at the bargaining table. We previously reported to you the movement by Treasury Board at the Table 3 Conciliation Board meetings following the strike action on our first "Workless Wednesday". A quick recap for those who are not aware of what took place during the Conciliation Board meetings the week of August 13th. At meetings on August 13th and 14th, there was no movement by Treasury Board, however, in the afternoon, following the first day of the national job action, (Wednesday, August 15th ), the employer altered their position on a number of operational. Additional, the union appointee to the Conciliation Board made it clear to us that the Board chairperson was impressed by the union’s (Table 3 Bargaining Team) efforts to keep things moving. As a result, the Board was able to provide either unanimous and/or majority recommendations on important issues at our table. The point in reporting this to you is that the job action has worked and it is important to keep the pressure on the employer with strategic strike action. We ask for your continued support.
You should also be aware of the employer’s last offer and our latest wage proposal for Table 3. You will recall the employer’s initial offering was 2% in each year of a three year agreement. As a result of strike action by other Table members, the employer has moved twice (2.5% in each year) to the present offer of 3.2% - 2.8% - 2.5%. Likewise the Table has adjusted our proposal twice and are presently proposing a wage settlement as follows:
First Year ½ Step (2%) + 4.0%
Second Year ½ Step (2%) + 4.0%
Third Year 3.5%
You should be aware that the current pay proposal was developed after lengthy discussion by the Table 3 representatives. The most significant points arising in the discussion were as follows:
1. The data contained in the Table 3 submission to the Conciliation Board clearly identifies that members represented at Table 3 have experienced a 20% to 40% loss in earnings compared to other public and private sector workers performing equivalent work. These figures are based on a number of factors, not the least being the legislation imposed on the federal civil service in the early 90’s and the recruitment and retention problems the employer is experiencing with all occupations represented at the table.
2. Of the three Conciliation Board reports (Tables 2, 3 and 5), Table 3’s Conciliation Board report contains the highest pay recommendation of any. This is obviously in recognition of the legitimacy of the facts and figures put forward in the union submission.
3. All of the above has been accomplished at Table 3 without members represented at the Table being in a STRIKE position, and that has now changed (as of midnight Friday August 31st).
None of us has a crystal ball, however, we know what you the members have asked of your bargaining team. If we are ever going to achieve our collective goals, now is the time. It has been years since the Government has enjoyed the surplus position they are currently in and who knows when the opportunity will come again. The surplus has been achieved primarily on our backs through massive cuts and the employer's expectation that we do more with less. We have approximately two weeks until the House of Commons returns (don’t forget their 20% increase) and we need to keep the pressure on.
During the next two weeks, you will be asked to demonstrate your support for our position at the Table. You will be asked to participate in strategic job action. If you are in a designated position, make that job action work by respecting the picket lines as you can and participating in them during your off work hours. Provide what support you can, when you can and together we will be able to move our common issues forward. Remember, this is not simply about money… it really comes down to the employer respecting what we do. Appropriate working conditions, leave provisions and compensation levels are simply the only instruments the employer can offer as a means to demonstrate that respect.
On behalf of the Table 3 Bargaining Team, we thank you for your on-going support.
Jerry Stock and David Lee .
Angry and frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations, and the government’s unwillingness to deal with their ‘Lay Day’ day issue, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)/Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) members employed as Ships Crews (part of the Table 2 Operational Services Group) walked off the job in Atlantic Canada and Ontario at 12:01 this morning.
"Despite a strong recommendation from the independent chair of the Table 2 Conciliation Board, the Treasury Board and the Coast Guard have refused, point blank, to ensure that Ships Crews receive a full year’s pay without having to use vacation leave" says PSAC National Executive Vice-President John Gordon. "As a result, a number of PSAC members employed as Ships Crews walked off the job, and are prepared to picket Coast Guard ships until the employer comes to its senses, tables and agrees to contract language that protects the vacation leave entitlement of our members," adds Gordon.
"The issue is one of fairness and respect," according to John Fox, a PSAC member from Halifax.
"The government arbitrarily changed the ‘Lay Day’ system when it legislated us back to work in 1997. Since then, a growing number of Ships Crews workers have been required to use part of their vacation leave to ensure that they receive a full year’s pay," says Fox. "The government of Canada is practicing a double standard," says Mike Wing, National President of the UCTE, a Component of the PSAC. "Officers on board Canadian Coast Guard Ships do not face the same discriminatory treatment that our members face. Moreover, while management has repeatedly acknowledged the problem, the government is still refusing to address the issue properly at the bargaining table."
A number of government of Canada ships including the Leonard J. Cowley, Ann Harvey, Cornwallis, Provo Wallis, Vigilance, Cumella, Partridge Island, Matthew, Alexander, Hudson, Griffon, Cove Isle and Samuel Risley are currently being struck in a number of east coast and Ontario ports. Other government ships on the east and west coasts are headed to port and will be struck when they reach their destinations. They include the W.E. Ricker, the John P. Tully and the Alfred Needler
Having done that, you will see the pay and duration portion is divided with the Board chairperson and both the employer and union wingers providing their own versions of a wage settlement. The bad news is, there is no consensus by the Conciliation Board, and as a result, no mutually agreeable starting point for renewing pay discussions. The good news is all three board members, including the employer’s representative, have provided recommendation on pay that exceed the employer’s last stated position.
Summarizing, the report is a step in the right direction. However, we still have some distance to go in reaching a collective agreement. Your continued support is essential to this end. The Board Report was released on Friday, August 24, putting Table 3 in a legal strike position as of 12:01 a.m. on August 31st. Your respect of Table 1, Table 2 and Table 5 picket lines on Wednesday, August 29th will be a clear demonstration to the employer of our collective resolve.
On behalf of the Table 3 Bargaining Team, we thank you for your on-going support.
Jerry Stock and David Lee .
In this round of bargaining as in other rounds, we believe that our members are entitled to a fair wage that reflects the work they provide to Canadians. The wage freezes or general wage increases that fell well below the cost of living that you were forced to accept over the last decade were, for the most part, not arrived at through a process of true negotiations but by means of legislation or the threat of legislation. The net effect has been that all public sector workers have fallen behind in their standard of living relative to workers in other sectors of the economy. This erosion in member income, as well as the massive government downsizing, resulted not only in a reduction in the cost of providing the services but in a severe shortage of workers in many areas.
In an attempt to deal with the problems being experienced as a result of these shortages, UCTE, in late 1996/97, held a number of meetings with Transport Canada. The departments "problem of hiring and retention" is not the problem but " a symptom of not compensating employees what they are worth". Our message to the department at that time is the same as it is today: compensate employees fairly and the problems will be resolved. However, fair compensation is a relative term and there are a number of factors that determine what is fair. Two factors are value related to other positions and market comparability.
The new Universal Classification Standard (UCS) system was to address the issue of value. Over the past several years the PSAC, UCTE. and our members have invested a lot of time and resources into trying to put in place a classification system that reflects current realities. Unfortunately, the employer seems to have abandoned this exercise, thereby forcing us to work with a system that is incapable of determining relative value. Your union is doing everything it can to get this process back on track.
In the area of market comparability, without the Pay Research Bureau, which the government dissolved in the early 1990s, there is no objective body responsible for compiling and comparing pay levels across the public service and other sectors of the economy. Transport Canada’s solution to market comparators was to hire Price Waterhouse to conduct a study to deal with one particular segment of the Technical Inspector Community. While the study, released to the department in early 1998, accurately quantified the wage disparity in some areas of the TI group, we do not believe it accurately identified wage disparities within the whole community, or those disparities that exist outside the TI classification. This study was done in isolation and identified only those areas that the department wanted to identify.
Contrary to popular belief during the round of negotiations which followed the study it was your union, not the employer, that brought some of the figures forward, in an attempt to justify the pay position we had at the table. I emphasize some of the figures because Transport Canada and Treasury Board did everything in their power to keep this pay information from the union and our negotiating team. Although UCTE filed an Access to Information request through the department and a complaint to the Access to Information Commissioner we were not provided with a copy of the report until after negotiations were completed. The employer’s position in that round of bargaining was to pay terminable allowances to some members of the TI group. Our position was the same as it is today: compensation should not be terminable, it should be part of an employee’s salary that is negotiated and revised in each successive round of collective bargaining. During that round, the negotiating team gauged the mood of the members and determined that the employer’s last position on Terminable Allowances was the best that could be achieved. Clearly, that was not what we wanted as a portion of salaries. During the next round of negotiations, while our position was once again to try and achieve fair wages for all of our members, much the same process played out. The employer wasn’t going to move on some salaries being terminable and was not prepared to address the disparities that exist for all. Your negotiation team weighed the situation and determined that this was the best they could achieve. While it wasn’t everything they wanted, your team did its best based on the support the membership was prepared to give them.
The past is the past. During the current round of negotiations we have an opportunity to move forward.. Our position has certainly not changed: fair wages for all members. If we are to be successful in achieving this position we must have the support of all members. UCTE has two TI members on the negotiations team. It’s time to throw your support behind them. This support is particularly critical during Conciliation Board meetings in August. Keep abreast of what is happening by checking out the PSAC website at www.psac.com. or through the PSAC Regional Offices or UCTE Locals. If you have questions or concerns bring them to our attention so that we can deal with them.
A conference for members working for the Federal Government with Transport Canada and the DFO will be held in November 2001, in Ottawa. The purpose of this conference is to facilitate a dialogue between Treasury Board locals.
For our perspective, the conference is an essential first step in developing a national framework through which UCTE Treasury Board local can address national issues that have an impact in their day-to-day dealing with their employer without diminishing their Local rights and authority.
Delegates will develop practical and effective solutions to the many problems faced by UCTE members who work for Treasury Board. Information regarding this very important conference will be forthcoming.