Welcome to our first newsletter for SP members!  We want this to be YOUR newsletter, and we welcome your ideas and suggestions about what you would like to see here!  Keep in touch with us at:  sp_grp_exec@pipsc.ca

How did you spend your Labour Day?  It was nice to see so many in person events happening across the country, with union members gathering together to celebrate all that we have achieved, and where we are headed in the months to come.

SP Group Launches Bargaining for a New Collective Agreement

As we approach the expiry of your collective agreement on September 30, 2022, your SP Bargaining Team has been busy preparing for negotiations of the renewal agreement.  We posed a few topical questions to our lead negotiator David Griffin:

What happens on October 1, 2022, after our collective agreement expires?

The SP Group filed notice to bargain with Treasury Board on June 6, 2022.  With the filing of the Notice to Bargain, the existing terms and conditions of employment under the collective agreement continue without interruption until a renewal agreement is reached.

Has bargaining commenced?

Yes!  The SP Group exchanged non-monetary proposals with Treasury Board on July 14, and had our first meetings with the Employer in Ottawa on August 30 and 31.  We have multiple dates scheduled between October through to April, 2022.  We don’t expect to exchange monetary proposals, including pay, until we have made progress on other issues.  Copies of the proposals are being posted on the SP group web page.

When can we expect a new settlement will be reached?

Great question.  There are many factors that influence how long negotiations will take and when a new collective agreement will be reached. Treasury Board is a large, sophisticated employer, and there are many groups and bargaining agents entering into negotiations with Treasury Board and related government agencies this year. There is significant coordination that occurs in reaching a collective agreement with a critical mass of bargaining agents and groups.  Realistically we won’t likely see a new agreement reached until 2023, at the earliest, however this can be influenced by a variety of factors, including an election, the economy, the government’s priorities and the willingness and ability of the employer and unions to reach agreement.

What happens if an agreement is not reached?

For this round the SP group has selected binding arbitration as the method for dispute resolution. If the union and employer have made a concerted effort to negotiate and fail to reach an agreement, either party may declare an impasse and file for arbitration. Arbitration is a process where each side presents their case to a neutral arbitrator, or panel, which then issues an award which is final and binding on the parties. In reaching its decision the arbitration board is required by legislation to consider a number of factors, including the state of the Canadian economy, the government’s fiscal circumstances, comparators for similar jobs within government and externally, and the employer’s ability to recruit and retain employees within the classifications.

What are the team’s goals for this round of bargaining?

In the current inflationary environment, our first priority is to maintain and ideally increase the economic prosperity of our members.  PIPSC conducted a survey of members last fall, and the SP group conducted a follow-up survey earlier this year, and we use the results of the survey to determine the priorities of the members. The work of our members has evolved significantly during the pandemic, and members are seeking more flexibility and choice with respect to how, where and when they perform their duties. We also want to ensure our members work in safe and healthy work environments, whether in person or remotely, with the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Where can I get more information?

Regular bargaining updates are distributed by the SP Bargaining team by email and posted on the SP group web page. If you are not receiving these updates, please update your membership information at https://pipsc.ca/member-tools/change-of-address.

If you have additional questions or would like to reach the bargaining team, please do not hesitate to contact us at spbargainingteam@pipsc.ca

Frequently Asked Question

What is going on with Sick Leave, otherwise known as EWSP – Employee Wellness Support Program?

Negotiations for the Employee Wellness Support Plan reached an impasse in 2020, after Treasury Board held that EWSP as a benefit plan should reside outside of the collective agreement. Several alternatives were explored by PIPSC and participating bargaining agents to reach an agreement, however TBS refused to formalize the mere existence of EWSP in the Collective agreement.

Under such circumstances, the bargaining agents declared an impasse. The Collective Agreement is the contract that links an employer and its union. Any agreement outside the collective agreement does not offer the same level of protection against unilateral change by the employer.

EWSP would have been a breakthrough and a change that both parties, Employers and Bargaining Agents, could be proud of. Supporting the employees when they are most vulnerable should have led to a sustainable agreement, not an impasse. Notwithstanding how promising the ideal EWSP may seem, and the importance of changing the current sick leave regime; and despite all the work done in the preceding 6 years, PIPSC was not prepared to surrender the current imperfect regime without indubitable guarantee that the replacement regime will be respected, internally managed and upheld in the future.

PIPSC is looking to address the sick leave program in the current round of bargaining.  How and to what extent has yet to be determined.

Upcoming Events

Some upcoming dates to be aware of:

PIPSC National AGM: November 18 and 19, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec

SP Group AGM: April 1, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario

Interested in watching a documentary film about the changing labour market landscape?  Check out The Gig Economy, an insightful look into piecemeal work, and the toll it is taking on workers.  It is streaming on a variety of platforms, and the website for the film is here:

The Gig Economy – The official website for the the documentary film The Gig Economy (wordpress.com)

Where can you find us on social media?

SP Group Web Page:https://pipsc.ca/groups/sp

Facebook: (20+) PIPSC SP Group / Groupe SP de l'IPFPC | Facebook

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PIPSC_science?t=Qhk4WL4OCr5dwj1WYFNpmw&s=09

These are some interesting unofficial groups where information is being shared by Government of Canada workers about Phoenix, telework, transition back to the workplace and so many other topics, they might be of interest to you!

GOC Parents:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/gocparents/

Telework GOC : https://www.facebook.com/groups/1606777942921223/

PIPSC Stewards: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PIPSC.Stewards/

Federal Public Servants – Phoenix Pay System: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhoenixPaySystemDebacle/
Canadian Public servants: https://www.reddit.com/r/CanadaPublicServants/

Are you interested in more information about the labour movement in Canada?  Check out this newsletter “Shift Work” Sign Up for PressProgress’ Shift Work Newsletter

We look forward to hearing from you,

Tanya Evans, Communications Coordinator
for the SP Group Executive Committee