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January 21, 2019 marked the first meeting of PSAC’s Gender Equity Task Force. The Task Force, chaired by Ontario REVP Sharon DeSousa, originated from a meeting of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) in December 2017. The NHRC women’s working group put forward a recommendation to strike a task force charged with examining equity representation within the union on all leadership bodies and develop proposals to increase women’s participation throughout PSAC, and in all areas of union activity.

The employees’ pay grids are completely inconsistent across bases. For example, an administrative assistant in Valcartier is paid 40 per cent less than someone in the exact same job in Ottawa.

They also get paid less than the core federal public service for the same jobs. For example, a first cook is paid around $14 an hour at Valcartier, but a first cook in a DND kitchen working for Treasury Board is paid $19 an hour. That’s a 30 per cent difference.

Members of the bargaining unit are encouraged to fill out the online form to provide the improvements and changes they would like to see made to the collective agreement. This form will be online and open for input until Dec. 1, 2019.

PSAC is seeking damages on the delay related to retroactive payments. Further PSAC is demanding in the current round of negotiations a penalty clause to compensate members in the future should the employer fail to provide retroactive pay on time again.

The 1991 national strike 

Concurrently, pay equity also became a priority issue at the bargaining table and the 1991 national strike against the Mulroney government. Rather than deal with PSAC members’ concerns, the government eventually legislated an end to the strike and froze collective bargaining. The bargaining freeze was extended until 1997 by Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government that came to power in 1993. 

The Labour Board disagreed with the employer and denied their request to delay the establishment of a Public Interest Commission (PIC). In a letter outlining the verdict, the Labour Board stated that PSAC’s Parks Canada bargaining team had “negotiated sufficiently and seriously” and therefore they would be recommending the establishment of a PIC.