PSAC finds itself in yet another protracted fight over the compensation of federal workers regarding the Phoenix pay system nightmare.
While the negotiated general damages settlement with the Government of Canada applies to more than 140,000 federal public service workers, other groups of federal workers were not covered by this agreement due to legislation.
Workers on Parliament Hill are seeking a similar damages agreement for the same pay issues incurred through the Phoenix pay system. PSAC members on Parliament Hill experienced disruptions with acting pay, overtime pay, pay issues upon leaving employment, retroactive pay, and more.
Since the initial Phoenix settlement was reached, PSAC has been in negotiations for other federal workers to receive a similar settlement. In the case of the House of Commons Reporting and Text Processing bargaining unit, the parties were unable to reach an agreement and went before an interest arbitration board. The Board issued its decision last week, which failed to provide House of Commons workers compensation comparable to the Phoenix damages received by workers in the federal public administration, as required by the governing legislation.
“The Board failed to address the constant stress and dread experienced by these members regarding the Phoenix pay system, and actual pay problems experienced by our members on the Hill,” said Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President for PSAC National Capital Region.
Last week PSAC filed notice to challenge the decision at the Federal Court of Appeal.
“There’s a basic question of fairness at play. Government made a commitment to address the hardship, pain and suffering of workers who were forced to rely on the broken Phoenix pay system. So when it comes to workers on Parliament Hill, why are they being treated differently?” added Silas.
Retired PSAC member Pamela Hilchie was surprised by the decision.
“I don’t understand the reason behind the decision. When I was trying to get my paperwork in order for my pension, I received a couple of invoices from the pension centre to pay contributions owing for leaves of absences without pay. I was not even entitled to take leaves of absences without pay, so this was a clear Phoenix error. Rather than trying to deal with Phoenix and any further issues that could arise, I chose to pay those amounts. Of course we had issues.”
Kevin King, President of the Union of National Employees, notes that “these workers are integral to parliamentary work, and parliament is sending the wrong message about how that work is valued.”
Parliament Hill staff work for the House of Commons and the Senate in publications, produce Hansard and committee proceedings for Parliamentary Standing Committees, work at the Library of Parliament, and in the Parliamentary Protective Services. These groups of workers are without redress for the Phoenix pay system issues they have experienced over the years.