Top News

OPINION: Fair contracts now

Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada gather for a rally in front of Sobeys on University Avenue on Thursday. The workers are calling for the federal government to negotiate a fair collective agreement with them.
Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada gather for a rally in front of Sobeys on University Avenue. The workers are calling for the federal government to negotiate a fair collective agreement with them. - Stu Neatby

Dan Aiken and Debi Buell
Guest Opinion

In his 2015 open letter to public servants, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he sees the public service as a “partner” that “must be valued by the government.”

After significant effort on the part of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to achieve fair collective agreements with this government, Trudeau’s actions have fallen well-short of his words. Reaching a fair contract before the federal election in October is the only way Trudeau can deliver on his promise of respect to PSAC members. And that window is closing.

PSAC is calling on P.E.I. parliamentarians to go on the record – now – by calling on the Treasury Board and related government negotiators to bring forward a fair contract proposal at the next bargaining session on April 30 (Treasury Board tables) and mediation session on May 7 (CRA table).

PSAC was deeply disappointed by the insulting proposals this government brought forward at the bargaining tables. What we find even more surprising is that the government has made only marginal improvements to its insulting offers after months upon months of stalled contract negotiations. It’s clear that officials in Ottawa are trying to drag their feet until after the October federal election.

Some public servants on P.E.I. haven’t received wage increases since the 2015 calendar year. Despite three years of the malignant Phoenix pay system, which caused widespread and far-reaching problems, such as not paying public servants, not paying them correctly, or not paying them on time – we’ve continued to report for duty and fulfil our commitment to Canadians while the government wasn’t upholding its obligations.

In the current round of bargaining, PSAC is seeking protections against excessive term employment to correct a longstanding injustice of finding loopholes to refuse permanent status to public servants with years of experience in their roles. PSAC is also seeking increased work-life balance and improved conditions in the workplace. We’re also seeking fair wage increases which, at minimum, keep pace with inflation.

This government is offering public sector employees wage increases which are about half the rate of inflation for the years under negotiation. Surely, this Liberal government understands that this insulting wage offer is nothing short of taunting PSAC and its 90,000 members to strike by effectively insisting on a wage cut in comparison to the rate of inflation.

As elected representatives for PSAC let us make one thing clear – our 3,100 members in P.E.I. are world-class public servants with demonstrated work ethic, integrity, and passion for their service. Those honourable public servants whom we represent are great Canadians and Islanders alike who support the local economy, support their communities, and have proven their commitment to administering Canada’s vital public services for years in spite of the broken Phoenix pay system.

The current government in Ottawa has shown disrespect and indifference to these public servants either by design or disinterest in these crucial contract negotiations. We’re calling on Island MPs to go on the record as supporting fair contracts now in advance of the April 30 and May 7 bargaining and mediation sessions.

Dan Aiken is president and Debi Buell is vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s P.E.I. Area Council representing over 3,100 federal public servants in P.E.I.

Recent Stories