President’s New Year Message 2017
As we head into 2017, PIPSC members have a lot to be proud of – and to look forward to. Thanks to the dedication, skill and perseverance of members like you and your bargaining teams, we’ve secured some impressive – even historic – wins at the federal bargaining table in the past year. The recently announced tentative agreements for the 18,000 members of the AV, RE, SH and SP groups mark a major advance over where we began, more than two years ago, under the Harper government. Nowhere is this more evident than in our historic agreement to recognize the right of federal scientists to speak freely about science and their research and to co-develop with federal departments scientific integrity policies. As the Toronto Star recently commented, this is a significant victory not only for our members but, yes, for democracy too. What’s more, we have secured a minimum 5% general salary increase for members and set forth generous minimum provisions that any future wellness plan must include before we even consider agreeing to replace our existing sick leave plan. These are no small accomplishments, and we look forward to achieving similar successes in ongoing negotiations on behalf of the 32,000 members from our other groups currently at the table.
All of this is a testament to the value of public interest bargaining, a strategic, public-focussed approach we undertook from necessity only a few short years ago and that continues to make the strongest case possible for public service professionals today. Our decision at PIPSC’s Annual General Meeting this fall to invest further in this approach will, I am confident, continue to serve both members and Canadians well – and even better – in the future. Whether fighting outsourcing, defending scientific integrity, or upholding tax fairness, public interest bargaining is critical to demonstrating our true value both at – and beyond – the bargaining table.
Few public interest issues today demonstrate the importance of common cause as urgently as the growing threat to defined benefit pensions. The introduction of Bill C-27 by Finance Minister Bill Morneau this fall signals a simultaneous assault on both private sector and public sector pensions alike – and by extension the security of Canadians’ retirement. It must be opposed, and we intend – along with other unions – to do just that.
Of course, no reflection on the year past or the year ahead would be complete without considering the impact of the Phoenix pay system on our members. While we have worked extremely hard over the past year to advise and pressure the government at every level to correct Phoenix’s failures, reimburse our members and ensure the problems do not persist, the government continues to experience difficulties. We will continue to do everything in our power in 2017 to ensure our members’ concerns are addressed promptly and to make the case that this example of poor planning, underfunding, and chronic over-reliance on outsourcing never be repeated.