Our union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), went on strike today (Wednesday) but this labour dispute is not JUST about higher wages.
To give just two examples:
Our employer, the Government of Canada, devalues our work by contracting out clerical and administrative positions whose duties could be done by full time, permanent employees. Contracting out means higher costs, more risk, and reduced quality of services for Canadians.
Our employer will often establish “pools” of job applicants who are ready and willing to explore new work challenges and environments, but the hiring process is so long and tedious that the applicants will find jobs elsewhere before they can complete the federal hiring process. To fill in the gap, the Government hires temporary or contract workers for those positions -- who can be let go easily when the Employer thinks the work has been completed.
The logic of remote work – either a full or a part-time hybrid- system – makes sense to everybody. Without a daily commute, we have more time in our lives for personal or family responsibilities. We can explore career opportunities not tied to where we live. It is also good for the environment.
The Treasury Board Directive on Telework in April 2020 laid out the idea of a healthy workplace that gave workers a choice of work arrangements. Now, use of the policy is up to the discretion of individual managers. We want the rules of remote work codified into our Collective Agreement – NOT changed by arbitrary whim without input or consultation.
As one of the largest employers in Canada, the Federal Government sets an example for others. It should not only honour its commitment to a living wage but also to the dignity of work and workers.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.