PSAC is calling for an end to second-class status for workers in the parliamentary precinct following a recent arbitration decision denying members at the Senate of Canada Phoenix compensation.
This echoes an April 2021 arbitration decision that rejected compensation for Phoenix problems experienced by House of Commons workers. Both decisions deny workers on Parliament Hill the same Phoenix compensation that was recently secured by PSAC for over 120,00 members in the federal public service.
Like all federal workers, parliamentary precinct workers have been deeply impacted by the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system since it was introduced in 2016. The situation became so bad that, by 2017, the Senate announced plans to stop using Phoenix altogether and launched a procurement process for a new pay system.
“PSAC members on the Hill are committed to serving and supporting Canada’s democratic institutions through thick and thin,” said Alex Silas, regional executive vice-president for the National Capital Region. “Yet they are being told that they don’t deserve compensation for what they’ve endured under Phoenix. This is unjust and unfair, and a symptom of deeper issues for workers on the Hill.”
Parliamentary precinct labour law must be reformed
PSAC members working on Parliament Hill have long been denied the same rights as other federal public service workers. Under the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, they are denied the right to strike and are prevented from bargaining for improvements in various areas of their work. They are also the only unionized workers in Canada who cannot jointly choose an arbitrator with their employer to resolve contract disputes.
“Restricted bargaining rights for our members on the Hill prevent them from negotiating fair working conditions,” explained Silas. “It’s time that politicians from all parties to work together to improve labour standards for these workers. Our government should be leading the way to ensure the hard-working staff who serve our democracy are treated fairly.”
PSAC will be filing for a judicial review of the arbitration decision. The union also calls on Canada’s next Parliament to reform the act to allow for less restrictive collective bargaining and allow unions to jointly choose arbitrators with employers, as is the case with other jurisdictions in Canada.