Over 170 PSAC members at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada are ramping up strike action starting today by initiating a full withdrawal of labour.
Auditor General Karen Hogan has indicated that the current strike will delay the release of forthcoming reports and disrupt the OAG’s ongoing modernization and renewal initiatives. She has also stated that even though the OAG is officially an independent agent of Parliament, the “President of the Treasury Board gives the OAG a mandate for collective bargaining”, which “includes how the OAG is to approach negotiations.”
Delayed performance audits
Nearly three months into the strike, it’s clear that the federal government — through Treasury Board — is unwilling to resolve this dispute. The government’s role in prolonging this strike is concerning because the delayed forthcoming reports are performance audits of several key issues, including emergency preparedness, cybersecurity, homelessness and vaccine expenditures.
“We know that these performance audits don’t always look good on the government,” said Alex Silas, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the National Capital Region. “We must therefore ask: is the government purposely seeking to delay these reports? Do they have something to hide?”
The government’s unwillingness to address worker concerns is also perplexing given that more than 75% of the striking group is composed of women. For a “feminist” government that repeatedly claims to be concerned with the advancement of women, why is it not seeking an immediate settlement to the strike?
Resolving strike would cost $215,000
PSAC members began strike action on November 26 and have employed a combination of work-to-rule and strategic strike tactics since then. They have now been without a contract for almost three and a half years. They are striking for:
1) the adoption of a wage grid with economic increases consistent with those in the core public service, and
2) continued wage parity with other groups within the OAG.
PSAC estimates that addressing these two issues will cost the OAG about $215,000 annually, or less than 0.2% of the organization’s budget. In the broader context of Government of Canada annual expenditures of over $350 billion, it’s a rounding error. Moreover, $215,000 is also a fraction of the performance pay that was added directly to OAG managers’ salaries on a recurring basis in 2019 — at an annual cost of nearly $2 million.
PSAC members at the OAG perform a wide range of technical, professional, administrative and clerical duties in support of the organization’s mission. They play a key role in ensuring Parliament is provided with timely and detailed reports on federal and territorial government operations and the stewardship of public funds.