How the Conservatives have been undermining PSAC members rights at work

The Conservative government has been working steadily to undermine and eliminate workplace rights in the federal government.

It’s time for a change.

The right to free collective bargaining

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled repeatedly that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees workers the right to free collective bargaining including the right to strike. Since then, the Conservative government has used omnibus budget implementation bills at least three times to limit collective bargaining in the federal public service in defiance of that right.

The Conservatives have systematically:

  • rolled back existing collective agreements in the federal public service,
  • put a limit on the salary increases that could be negotiated for a period of time,
  • given the government the power to remove sick leave provisions from collective agreements and impose a new arrangement outside of the agreements,
  • limited the right to strike, and
  • allowed the government alone to decide who is essential without the right to strike and eliminated any independent review of their decisions.

The right to a safe workplace

The Conservatives used one of their budget bills to change the definition of “danger” in the health and safety section of the Canada Labour Code. That section covers 1.5 million public and private federal workers. The change to “imminent danger” makes it much more difficult to refuse dangerous work. It means you can’t raise the alarm about unsafe working conditions before you’re actually in harm’s way, when it may be too late to protect yourself and others.

The right to pay equity

Thanks to complaints filed by PSAC, many members in the federal public service received pay equity settlements fifteen years ago. That would be impossible today. In another budget bill in 2010, the Conservatives removed the right of federal public service employees and their unions to file complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act in order to receive pay equity. Now only individual members may file a complaint and unions are expressly forbidden from helping them.

The right to form a union

Labour laws are normally changed after a government consults extensively with employers and unions. But not the Conservative government. Its preferred method has been to have individual Members of Parliament propose changes to labour laws even if the MP knows absolutely nothing about them. One such bill was passed this year that changed the rules for federal public and private sector workers who want to form a union. The Conservatives have made it more difficult for workers to exercise their legal right to join a union in order to exercise their Charter right to bargain collectively.

You can change this

PSAC is already taking on these challenges to our members’ rights but going through the courts takes time. On October 19, PSAC members have an opportunity to fast-track change by electing an employer that will respect our rights.

Vote for your rights on October 19!

More information about the election and your rights.