Bill C-4 resources and telephone town hall wrap up

Less than a week after reconvening Parliament, the Conservative government introduced Bill C-4, an omnibus budget bill that proposes to radically change our rights as federal public sector workers, and, by extension, is an attack against the rights of all Canadian workers.

PSAC members can help stop this legislation, which has serious implications on our rights at work and on our health and safety, by speaking with their MPs, members of their communities, and the media. Here are some resources to help you do that.

Robyn Benson, PSAC's National President; Peter Julian, NDP MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, and Bob Jackson REVP for BC held a telephone town hall for PSAC members in BC on November 14th. They talked about the impact of Bill C-4 on workers, and took questions from PSAC members.

Listen to the audio recording of our town hall meeting, and share it with your co-workers.

 

Bill C-4 is all about making it easier for the government and Treasury Board to come after federal government workers in the next round of bargaining and to strip away our long-standing negotiated rights.

Take a moment to email your MP - Tell them to oppose proposed changes to federal labour legislation in Bill C-4.

More resources and links

If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like to get involved in our campaign to fight back against Bill C-4, do not hesitate to get in touch.

We have also compiled some of the questions PSAC members asked on our telephone town hall.

Where is Bill C-4 in Parliament?

Peter Julian: The bill was introduced in October, and rammed through 2nd Reading using closure motions and is before various parliamentary committees right now. The Conservatives shut down debate on the Bill entirely and wants to ram it through Parliament before Canadians know the full extent of what it contains. They want to this legislation to pass quickly. Once Bill C-4 comes back from the parliamentary committees, it will go to 3rd reading, and then to the Senate, where it will become law.

What can PSAC members do to fight against Bill C-4 right now?

Robyn Benson: It is important at this stage to talk to MP’s – from all parties. We can also talk to our friends and neighbors and write to our local newspapers. We need to let Canadians know what this bill is all about. We also need to let our employer know that we’re strong, prepared to fight for our rights, and won’t accept concessions when we begin to bargain next year.

What are opposition MPs, the NDP, Liberals and Green Party, doing to fight Bill C-4? Are they talking to Canadians about this?

Peter Julian: A number of NDP MPs have spoken out in the media about Bill C-4, and the Opposition has also been using the tools they have, like their constituency newsletters, to talk to Canadians about the impact of the legislation. The NDP has also raised concerns many times in question period in Parliament. I have no doubt that if Canadians knew about what was in this legislation that they’d be opposed to it. The more contact Conservative MPs have from their constituents on the ground about bill C-4, the greater the chance some of them will vote to split the bill, and remove the anti-worker changes to federal labour legislation.

What can we do on social media? Has PSAC looked at putting together an online action or template letter we can send to our MPs?

Bob Jackson: We have a lot of material at the national and regional website and we’ve created an online action (see above). I encourage you to email your MP, and share this link with your co-workers and friends.

Looking forward, what will we do if Bill C-4 passes? What will PSAC’s reaction be?

Bob Jackson: We will continue to be vocal in the media, continue to politicians and the public – especially using our Area Councils – to keep the conversation about Bill C-4 going. And we’ll continue to engage with other Labour groups like the Canadian Labour Congress, because this legislation isn’t just about PSAC members, it’s about all workers. And of course we need to continue to talk to PSAC members via our member-to-member We Are All Affected campaign.

Parts of Bill C-4 appear to contravene the charter of rights and freedoms and other legislation. Will PSAC take legal action against Bill C-4?

Robyn Benson: We'll see if the bill passes, in the meantime we'll continue to work against it. We've been working collectively with the other 17 bargaining units that fall under the National Joint Council, and a legal challenge is certainly one of the options we'll be pursuing.

Who is designated essential right now, and how will that change under Bill C-4?

Bob Jackson: The bill gives the government the unilateral right to designate workers as essential. It also says that if 80% or more of the members of a bargaining unit are essential, that unit cannot take strike action. This eliminates our ability to take strike action – something that is only done as a last resort – entirely, and weakens our position at the bargaining table. The designations process for federal employees has been something that has been negotiated over many rounds of bargaining over the years and has worked. We’ve sat down and negotiated with our employer, made our arguments, and worked it out. When the Public Service Modernization Act came into force in 2008, we had the ability to revisit essential services and the legislation allowed us to duties that were essential, not just positions. Bill C-4 takes away our right to negotiate with the employer – it’s a huge step backwards.

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