The Phoenix pay system continues to pose major problems for our members in the federal government. PIPSC remains committed to looking for ways to assist individual members as well as to work with senior public servants and elected officials to find solutions.
On Friday, August 19, I met with Minister Judy Foote, Public Works and Procurement Canada. I related our members’ continued problems with the system and even raised new issues we see emerging. The Minister listened and expressed deep concern and awareness of the issue. I repeated that our top priority is to ensure that payment to our members is expedited.
I specifically stated that lack of emergency pay for many of our members was unacceptable and that more department-specific solutions are required. If someone needs to have a cheque issued manually to them, then the employer should find a way to arrange this.
On Thursday, August 18, our members in Newfoundland and Labrador participated in a demonstration outside Minister Foote’s office in St. John’s along with representatives from other federal public sector unions, demanding immediate action. We thank them for taking the time on behalf of all public servants to voice their concerns.
As many are aware PIPSC has also been finding ways to assist students who have been disproportionately affected by problems with the pay system. We have reached out and assisted many who are fearful they will not have the funds to cover their tuition due at the end of this month. We raised this issue with the Minister and senior officials Friday and were assured they are working very hard to fix the problem. We will continue to work with students until we also see their issues resolved.
The Phoenix pay system we fear is yet another example of a failed outsourced IT “modernization” strategy rooted in a motivation to cut costs rather than improve services. We have now seen this scenario repeated a few times – e.g., the federal government’s e-mail consolidation and website renewal, to mention only two. We will continue to press the new government not to repeat the mistakes of the previous government and, instead, to properly plan and resource their projects.
My main message to the government has been they should have asked our members to carry out the testing and implementation of Phoenix and that they should reach out now to their workforce to help solve ongoing problems. Further, the government needs to consider what our members have to say about their plans at the outset of future projects if they want to avoid such catastrophic failures in the future.
In closing, I wish to express my deep appreciation for all the work consultation Presidents and other PIPSC leaders, stewards, volunteers and staff are doing to help members through this dire situation. Thank you!