Thousands of holiday memories have been ruined for members of the Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU), a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). In response to their third holiday season as victims of the Phoenix pay system, federal public sector employees working at Service Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB),and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are delivering coal and grievances to the federal liberal government for Christmas.
The Phoenix pay system has caused federal workers to miss paycheques, be targeted with unexplained overpayment claw backs, and the denial of health benefits. They have continued to go to work, serving Canadians, everyday, not knowing if they will be paid correctly, or if they will even be paid at all.
“Workers deserve to be paid for their labour,” says CEIU National President Eddy Bourque, himself a victim of the phoenix pay system, ‘we are delivering coal to the federal Liberal government on behalf of our members as a symbol to say, enough is enough – treat your employees with basic dignity and respect by paying them correctly and on time.” This past Friday, Bourque delivered thousands of messages from his members to the federal government along with bags of coal. “We hope the Liberals, who have consistently passed the blame for this pay disaster, will use this holiday season to think about the damage they’ve done to our members and their families. Maybe they will take a page from Scrooge and have a change of heart about providing damages to their employees for the pain and suffering that they have caused.”
But CEIU’s fight back didn’t end with coal and angry messages delivered over the holiday season.
Crystal Warner, National Executive Vice-President of CEIU, advised their employers last week that their union was taking hundreds of phoenix related grievances out of abeyance. “Our members have been waiting nearly three years, holding off on grievances, as their departmental heads tell them they shouldn’t be held accountable for their pay problems; that there’s nothing they can do to fix it. Where have you ever heard of an employer feigning responsibility for not paying its own employees? Our union has spent months attempting to negotiate damages for our members. They cannot expect us to tolerate more. We’ve reached our breaking point.” The union has advised the employer that they will no longer hold grievances in abeyance and will be moving them forward to the adjudication process.
However, the final straw for the union has come at the bargaining table, where their PSAC bargaining team, representing 90,000 federal public sector workers including the over 21,000 members of CEIU, has declared an impasse. In addition to proposing only 0.75% per year for four years, the Trudeau government requested that the new collective agreement only take effect 365 days after it is signed by both parties, amounting to a two-year wage freeze. In the midst of the Phoenix crisis, this offer only adds insult to already injured employees.
The National Executive of CEIU will be spending the next several weeks and months engaging their members in discussions about a fight back campaign focused on the bargaining process. “They’ve pushed us too far, and they are about to awaken a sleeping giant,” states Warner.
CEIU encourages its locals to invite bargaining team representatives to speak with their members, and continue to show support to their team.
Unlike Santa, the damages created by the Phoenix pay system don’t come just once a year. Employees of the federal public service deserve respect.
Letter To the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
For media inquiries please contact Crystal Warner at: [email protected]