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


28 January 2021
On January 26, 2021, PIPSC President Debi Daviau appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. She presented our members’ concerns about the situation at NAV CANADA and how to best ensure its continued viability.

13 January 2021
We must continue to work together, in solidarity, to advocate for professionals in our workplaces, build on the strength and influence of our union, and push for the Canada we believe in. 

9 December 2020
PIPSC Economist, Ryan Campbell, brings us the 5 takeaways from Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland’s 2020 fiscal update delivered on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.

16 October 2020
The long-awaited successor to the failed Phoenix pay system will enter a pilot project at Canadian Heritage.

25 September 2020
On September 23, 2020 Governor General Julie Payette delivered a particularly important Speech from the Throne that outlined the government’s priorities and plans for the critical months ahead. In the Speech, the government made a number of statements on issues of great importance to our members and to all Canadians.

9 June 2020
When COVID-19 struck, you were ready and you delivered. You are what keeps this country together, and we couldn’t be more proud.