PSAC, USJE picket at Joyceville Institution to highlight bargaining demands

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Kingston Region and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees (USJE) set up an information picket on Thursday, Apr. 14, 2022, outside of Joyceville Institution in an effort to draw attention to their ongoing bargaining efforts with the Federal Government. More than a dozen union members joined in the picket, which started bright and early at 6:30 a.m. — just in time for employees to arrive at the prison for the workday.

PSAC and USJE members waved flags and handed out leaflets on the current ongoing bargaining between the unions and the federal government with respect to public service workers’ employment contracts with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Photo by Penny Cadue.

Bill Bailey, the Regional Vice President (Ontario) for USJE, said that today’s event was to inform the members served under the unions about the status of bargaining with the federal Treasury Board. Bailey mainly represents the public service workers from the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). 

The information session highlighted the demands of the unions, which they shared are:

  • Fair wages that recognize the impact rising inflation is having on families
  • Remote work and the right to disconnect to ensure a better work-life balance
  • Safe and inclusive workplaces free of harassment and discrimination
  • Good, secure jobs for federal public service workers

PSAC represents 123,856 federal public service workers across the country under the Treasury Board of Canada. 

“These are the frontline workers, who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic getting help to Canadians,” said Bailey. 

PSAC is now negotiating a total of 165,000 public service worker contracts, Bailey said.

During the Treasury Board’s negotiations with the unions this year, the board offered a wage increase of 1.5 per cent, 2 per cent, 1.75 per cent, and 1.5 per cent over a four-year agreement (percentage increases are different for each of the four years) — averaging 1.75 per cent, per year from 2021 to 2025. The offer was taken as a “slap in the face” by Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.

Bailey explained that, this year alone, the inflation rate is expected to be above four percent, and a family of four is seeing their grocery bills climb by almost $1,000. Meanwhile, gas and utility prices have never been higher, he expressed. 

PSAC has proposed wage increases of 4.5 per cent, per year, to protect workers from the rising cost of living and ensure PSAC members and their families don’t fall behind, Bailey explained.  

“We will continue to support our workers and be their voice, continue bargaining until both sides reach a fair agreement,” he said.

“We’ve been clear on the most important issues, but this government wants to set our members back and impact the services we deliver to Canadians. We’re keeping all options on the table to reach a fair deal, and we need members across the country to be ready to escalate actions across the country — even if that means taking strike action,” the information flyer distributed in the event emphasized. 

Along with the wages issue, the Union also wants more inclusive workplaces, Bailey detailed. 

“We want a work environment that’s inclusive and understands diversity. I can’t understand why we’re having such an issue with the board for negotiating something that every employer would want: harmonious labour relations within the workplace,” said Bailey. 

PSAC is calling its members to be in formed and up to date on the current situation, and pressuring the Government of Canada to reach a fair negotiation on wages and working conditions for the employees — those are the most important items for people to take away from the picket, Bailey said, and the most important items for all of the public service workers PSAC represents.

Union representatives and members with PSAC Local 901 and the USJE holding an information picket on Thursday, Apr. 14, 2022. Photo by Penny Cadue.

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