Don’t Blame Bargaining for Phoenix Failures

Earlier this month, PSPC Minister Carla Qualtrough asked me if I would be willing to negotiate simplifying some of the pay rules bargained over decades that, some claim, contribute to the dysfunction of the federal pay system. My answer was yes – provided it doesn’t result in any loss of pay to our members.

But my willingness to bargain changes in the practical best interests of our members should not be mistaken for believing such pay rules are inherently dysfunctional, or that Phoenix failures are the fault of bargaining or – far from it – of unions.

It is, frankly, absurd and offensive to accuse collective agreements of confounding the current pay system. The old pay system, built in-house by our members and still used in a few workplaces, managed such changes for 40 years without this kind of catastrophic failure. Many of these changes were introduced by management, not unions. Phoenix was sold to the federal government as the software solution to all pay issues -- including changes regularly negotiated through collective bargaining – bypassing the expertise and input of our members. The current government even assured us earlier this year that retro pay would be unaffected.

We are therefore entirely within our rights in demanding that any system as poorly planned, implemented and tested as Phoenix should be scrapped and a new one that works be built.

Our national and international economies are built on options and choices. We have different cars, different houses, different toothpastes. To suggest that we can't have a different pay system for the largest employer in the country is ridiculous. To suggest that we can’t afford it is to ignore the evidence of this week’s report by the Auditor General – who cannot predict when Phoenix will be fixed or how many hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost to do so – and to subject our members, Canadians and future governments to the most costly and dysfunctional pay system ever inflicted on our public service.

Bargaining didn’t create this mess. It may, however, help fix some of it while we continue to demand a new system built by our members that works.

Better Together.

Debi Daviau

President


15 August 2018
On behalf of all PIPSC members, I’d like to express our support and encouragement to our fellow members and all of those currently affected by the ravages of the forest fires in British Columbia this summer.

1 August 2018
I recently wrote to Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council, to express my concerns with his recent comments claiming it is difficult to fire public servants.

20 July 2018
In May 2018, I spoke at the Atlantic Regional Council about ongoing issues surrounding the Phoenix pay system.

19 June 2018
The Institute’s Legacy Foundation would like to remind you that the deadline to submit a scholarship application is July 13, 2018. In 2018, the Foundation will award the following scholarships:

15 June 2018
As the joint communiqué released today between Treasury Board President Scott Brison and myself shows, there is new progress to report on our efforts to replace the dysfunctional Phoenix pay system.

15 June 2018
Protecting the pensions of our members is a top priority at PIPSC. That’s why over the last year we have been fighting so hard to ensure our members at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) remain in the Public Service Pension Plan.