Recently, I sent an opinion piece to the Globe and Mail about our members’ ongoing problems with the Phoenix pay system and what I consider to be one of the root causes of the debacle: outsourcing. You can read my article here.
Its publication this week gives me an opportunity to also update you on a few of the things we’ve been doing, as your union, to mitigate the impact and expedite the fixing of Phoenix, which from the start of the crisis we argued should never have been rolled out. Against our warnings, the government did so anyway, confident no doubt that the problems would soon be fixed. They weren’t.
After many long months of lobbying, protesting and pleading with the government, however, I now feel more confident in saying that I believe we have begun to turn a corner with the employer, if not in finding an immediate fix at least in establishing a common approach to fixing the Phoenix system.
In May, PIPSC filed two policy grievances against the employer – our only real legal means of pressuring the government to repair the system and properly compensate all our members who have been harmed or impacted. While these grievances are unlikely to expedite a final fix, they do establish rigorous expectations on our members’ part regarding an eventual resolution and compensation. This followed many months of assisting literally hundreds of members in filing individual grievances, many of which have been resolved, as well as writing to and meeting with ministers, arguing new measures be adopted to assist members, keeping the issue alive in the media, offering loans to those particularly hard hit, organizing many of our members to protest, and lobbying – successfully – for more money to be spent on fixing the system.
In late June, an invitation for me to meet with the new ministerial working group set up to fix Phoenix finally opened the door to closer collaboration between the government and some of our CS Group members in finding solutions. I hope this will lead to better appreciation of our members’ importance and an eventual change in the government’s outsourcing practices so that such disasters will be prevented from happening in the future.