Samah Henein came to Canada 30 years ago from Egypt with a BA in Commerce to have a better life. She wanted the job security that the public service offered, but also wanted to work somewhere she could learn, grow and have balance in her life. Samah applied as an auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in 2005.
“The union makes the workplace a better place. There is more satisfaction with the employee, work conflicts get resolved faster, the union provides tools and resources to workers so they know their rights. The union fights for employees to get a good collective agreement and empowers them to do better,” Samah says.
Growing up, Samah witnessed her mother face dozens of challenges in her factory workplace. Her mom had to fight for equitable promotions and better working conditions. Watching her mother fight for equality and fairness throughout her life inspired Samah to speak up for herself and her coworkers at the CRA. This was one of the main reasons she decided to become a PIPSC steward.
“It’s important to empower people who are not able to voice their concerns and issues and to give them the resources they need to succeed,” she says.
Since starting her union work with PIPSC, Samah has made lasting changes in her workplace. She helped a member suffering violence at home to seek support and look after their well-being by taking time off from work. She won a grievance that earned a member a promotion, and helped another colleague change a leave type from unpaid to paid because of health reasons.
Most of all, Samah says she is proud that her coworkers can have a healthy work-life balance knowing that they are never alone when their job becomes challenging.
“We need to listen to members and ensure they are heard, for example if they have requests for accommodations,” she says.
At the CRA, Samah works in the Scientific Research Experimental Development division. In her role as a Financial Reviewer, she works with Canadian businesses who perform their research and development in Canada.
This work helps stimulate the economy and increase financial support for people in Canada. Her work in the public service doesn’t end with her contributions to her local union, she helps empower Canadian workers and businesses every day.
“I work with brilliant scientists and strong teams,” she says. “We are there to support businesses and they know we are accurate, timely and fair supporting their rights as well.” Samah is proud of the work she does to support Canadian businesses and her union work supporting her colleagues’ rights. She’s has been involved in the union for five years and is now the vice-chair of the Prairies/Northwest Territories Region and an important member of the PIPSC Human Rights and Diversity Committee. She makes sure members’ voices are heard.
“We are here to protect people’s rights. This year, the union negotiated our contract in an efficient way and fought against outsourcing while also fighting to support people going through grievances,” she said. “PIPSC makes sure that our workplace is safe and healthy.”
A union is its members, and it’s people like Samah that make a union strong. Despite our important accomplishments this year, Samah said she believes there is more work to be done together as a union to make changes across the country and within our union.
“A better Canada is where everyone matters equally,” she says. “PIPSC can be the vehicle for fairness and equality that we need to see everywhere.”