Archive for the 'PSMA' Category



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The PSAC has just produced a booklet which offers information on staffing in the Federal Public Service. The booklet includes suggested questions to help Locals intervene effectively in their workplace staffing regime.

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In response to some questions we’ve received lately, here is a brief overview of the changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) and the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) under the Public Service Modernization Act along with links to the relevant sections of the legislation.

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Click the ^ to follow a link to the relevant piece of legislation or website.

Labour Relations – Grievances (Part 2 of the PSLRA)

There are now three types of grievances: individual^, group^ and policy^. Individual grievances are much like the past; group grievances are filed by the Union and must relate to the interpretation or application of the collective agreement – but individuals sign onto a consent form, thereby allowing the issue to move forward more efficiently and giving a remedy to those individuals who sign on; policy grievances are union grievances that also must relate to the interpretation or application of the collective agreement – they are filed at the final level with PSAC approval as the bargaining agent [similar to the way section 99 references were processed]. Policy grievances are “new” because the Union can file a policy grievance whether an individual could also grieve the issue or not [the limitation that existed for section 99 references];

Issues relating to deployments will be grievable once the new Public Service Employment Act is in force. However, the only issue that can be referred to adjudication is whether the individual deployed had given consent to the deployment; this includes persons who are deployed as a result of a finding that he or she harassed and is deployed out of the work unit. The Adjudicator will be entitled to inquire into whether there actually was harassment as part of the consent issue;^

Adjudicators can award interest in cases of termination, demotion, suspension or financial penalty;^

Adjudicators can now interpret and apply the Canadian Human Rights Act, and they can award the damages set out in that Act for pain and suffering (maximum of $20,000) and punitive damages (maximum of $20,000);^

The Canadian Human Rights Commission must be given notice of any adjudication that deals with a human rights-related issue and it can intervene in the hearing;

Subject to general policies set by Treasury Board, each Department’s deputy head now has the direct statutory power to set standards of discipline and set penalties (including termination, suspension and demotion), to provide for termination or demotion for unsatisfactory performance or non-disciplinary reasons, or provide for the termination of employment of persons to whom an offer of employment is made as a result of a transfer of work outside the core public administration; and

In cases of termination or demotion for unsatisfactory performance, an adjudicator can now only rule on whether the deputy head’s decision relating to performance was “reasonable”.^

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Labour Relations – Alternate Dispute Resolution/Informal Conflict Management Systems (ICMS)

Deputy heads must, in consultation with the union, establish an information conflict management system;^

Minimum binding guidelines for all ICM Systems have been issued by Treasury Board and are available on its website;^

ICMS can apply to any workplace conflict but does not override the grievance process;

It is strictly voluntary and individuals have a right to have a union or other representative present;^

The Union must be notified if the subject-matter of the ICMS involves the interpretation or application of the collective agreement;^

Opting into ICMS will not prejudice time limits under the grievance process; they’ll start ticking again once you opt out of ICMS if it isn’t working.

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Labour Relations – Consultation and Co-development (Part 1, Division 3 of the PSLRA)

It’s now mandatory for each deputy head to establish a union-management consultation committee. This includes all Treasury Board departments and separate employers. For many workplaces, UMCC or similar committees are already in place and functioning;

Employers and/or deputy heads and bargaining agents may also engage in co-development; this means the identification of workplace problems and the development and analysis of solutions to those problems;

Co-development is a joint analysis and decision-making process that is much more involved than consultation and will generally take place at a higher / national level. Any initiative must have bargaining agent approval;

Many employer/department representatives don’t understand the distinction between co-development and consultation. They ask to “co-develop” issues such as overtime distribution agreements. This is not co-development; so when in doubt, call it consultation.

Neither of these processes can serve to circumvent the collective bargaining process, or take away rights under a collective agreement.

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Labour Relations – Essential Services (Part 1, Division 8 of the PSLRA)

There has been a change in the way essential services are defined – it now includes “facilities” and refers to “a segment of the public” as well as the general public;^

The bargaining agent and the employer must negotiate an “essential services agreement”;^

Each agreement will deal with three issues: (1) identify the services that are essential; (2) what level of essential service is being provided (i.e. EI or CPP cheques must go out every two weeks); and (3) how many employees are required to maintain that level of service;

(3) is a change from the current process. Under the old system, if a job description even involved a small percent of the essential service, the position was designated. Under the new law, if there are 100 jobs that involve duties deemed “essential”, but only about 25% of the job relates to these essential duties, then only 25 positions will be deemed “essential”. The persons who are in those positions will only do the essential duties for 100% of their time (and therefore will not perform the other 75% of the “normal” work). This leaves 75 employees who can exercise the right to strike. Under the old system, all 100 of these positions would have been designated regardless of how much of the job was essential;

The Union and Employer must negotiate issues (1) and (3). The employer unilaterally decides (2) – the level of service that must be provided; If we can’t agree on (1) and (3), the labour board will hold a hearing and render a decision.^

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Labour Relations – Strikes (Prohibitions regarding strike activity are covered under Part 1, Division 14 of the PSLRA)

The Union is now required to hold a strike vote among all employees in the bargaining unit – not just Union members;^

Excluded employees are not covered by this, but members who have been suspended or had their membership revoked are;

Every employee must be given a reasonable opportunity to vote and to be informed of the result of the vote;^

An employee can complain to the PSLRB that there was an irregularity in the vote; the PSLRB can dismiss the complaint outright if the irregularity could not have affected the outcome;^

The Union must initiate strike action within 60 days of the date the vote is held;

The timing of strikes must not only take into account this 60 day “window”, but is subject to a range of other requirements including a prohibition on strike activity until 30 clear days have elapsed since singing off on an essential services agreement;

There is a new prohibition that says that no person can impede or attempt to impede essential service workers from entering or leaving the workplace;

There are new fines for both the union and individual members relating to strike activity.

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Labour Relations – Unfair Labour Practices (Part 1, Division 12 of the PSLRA)

The PSLRA now says that a Union cannot expel, suspend, discipline, deny membership, or apply its rules, in a discriminatory manner; after having exhausted the appeals under the Union constitution(s), an individual may also file a complaint with the Board alleging a violation of this provision;^

The employer now has a right to “free speech” and does not commit an unfair labour practice where it offers an opinion as long as it doesn’t use intimidation, threats, coercion, promises or undue influence.^

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Staffing (Covered by the Public Service Employment Act)

There’s a new definition of merit that radically changes the basis for appointments;^

Relative merit is gone, merit now only means that the person meets the essential qualifications of the position and has certain other “assets” that the department considers important for its current or future needs;

The Act actually says that it is not inconsistent with merit to only consider one person for a job;

The changes to the definition of merit have an impact on lay-offs since reverse order of merit no longer applies.

There are new rules that apply to how candidates are notified of job opportunities, selected and assessed;

The Act no longer favours appointments from within the public service so there will likely be an increase in open (“external”) appointment processes instead of closed (“internal”) appointment processes;

The power to appoint, and the decision on whether to even advertise a job opportunity, is to be delegated to the lowest possible management level;

Extensions to a term are no longer considered new appointments;

Appeals (and Public Service Commission Appeal Boards) are gone;

Complaints for internal selection processes can only be made, on limited grounds, to a new Public Service Staffing Tribunal;

The Tribunal has the power to interpret and apply the Canadian Human Rights Act in relation to a complaint;

The role of the Public Service Commission is, largely, to audit departments and how they administer the Act.

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PSMA training in BC: updates

PSAC education logoHere are some recent additions and changes to the PSAC education schedule:

Upcoming PSMA training in BC
Course Date Location Facilitator
Public Service Modernization Act May 27, 28 Terrace, Coast Inn of the West, room 328 Regina Brennan
Public Service Modernization Act June 3,4 Vancouver RO TBA
Public Service Modernization Act June 3,4 Victoria RO Dave Jackson
Note the above course in Victoria has been rescheduled from April 8,9. If you have already registered, your name will automatically get moved to this new date.

Visit the education page to see all the courses scheduled to date. Register for these courses online.

The Department of Canadian Heritage has been ordered to reinstate a former employee who was fired because she belonged to a sovereigntist organization.

The Public Service Labour Relations Board has ruled that Edith Gendron was improperly fired two years ago.

Gendron may have been in conflict of interest when she was elected president of the group Le Quebec, un Pays in 2004, but the board found that Gendron’s termination was an excessive reaction, and ordered the government to give her back her job.

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Speaker Series: Ron Carr, Strategic Change and Organization Development Services, Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada

See below for an outline of the presentation.

  • Vancouver, March 22, 9:00 – 10:30, Segal Graduate School of Business, 500 Granville Street (corner of Granville) Event Room 1500, Main Floor
  • Victoria, March 23, 9:00 – 10:30, Hotel Grand Pacific, Denman Room, 2nd Floor

There is no fee to attend these sessions. For registration please go to: http://pfc.gc.ca “Calendar of Events”

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Dear Brothers & Sisters:

The federal election on Janauary 23rd is a critically important event for most PSAC members. While all voters in Canada will be electing a government, most PSAC members have the opportunity to elect their employer. As a result it is important that PSAC members participate in the election campaign, and do what they can to ensure that candidates for election understand issues that are important to PSAC members and are willing to champion those issues in Parliament. In this mail out you will find a Brochure from the Canadian Labour Congress on their Better Choices Campaign and a summary of the issue leaflets that the PSAC has prepared and posted on the under the Think, Ask and Vote icon.

PSAC members have had the right to engage politically at the federal level since the union challenged the restrictions under the previous Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) back in 1991. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the only federal public sector workers who faced restrictions on political expression were deputy heads of departments. The Public Service Modernization Act changed the PSEA which has created new restrictions on all public service workers.

It has been brought to my attention that some departments and agencies are advising our members that they are not allowed to participate in the political process. This statement is overly broad and misleading.

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Visit the education pages for upcoming PSMA courses.

Training Needs

We’ve identified three levels of training necessary for Locals in B.C. to be prepared for the implementation of the PSMA.

  1. in depth training for Local Presidents and Component RVP’s. This was available at the Union School.
  2. comprehensive training for Stewards and Local Officers – both an overview and issue specific (e.g. staffing, grievances, etc)
  3. broad overview training for rank and file members

Education Delivery

Recognizing that there are limited resources, we’ve identified a variety of ways in which to deliver this training.

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