President’s Opening Address
President Debi Daviau delivered a vibrant bilingual address, reporting how the Institute made progress and change over the past year.
A year ago, the Institute faced huge challenges. But we had equally big ambitions and together we resolved that extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions. Members must never forget the challenge that we faced and most importantly how we responded, how we stepped up and how we made change! After all, those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. We remember the thousands of public servants who were served WFA notices, struggling to make do with less in increasingly toxic workplaces and facing the open disrespect of their employer. We responded to the voices of millions of Canadians who bore the brunt of public service cuts and the Conservative government’s policies. We made the case for change by exposing the government's record and explaining what was at stake.
Through our Better Together member engagement program we informed, we engaged and we mobilized thousands of members. From rallies and lunch and learns, to desk drops and leafleting, our activists made their mark right across the country. And we reached out to so many more Canadians in our communities and on the doorstep with lawn signs, print, web and radio ads, and billboards.
Thanks to a thoughtful and strategic approach, we’ve established some powerful firsts in this round of collective bargaining with Treasury Board.
Faced with an employer hell-bent on tearing down our sick leave system we put together a solidarity pact with all the federal public service unions that has proved its worth.
Going to the bargaining table, up against the most anti-union government in our history, we put in place an unprecedented level of coordination between our groups that will serve the Institute and its members well for many more years and rounds to come.
While our employer was doing everything possible to focus attention on its agenda of concessions on sick leave, we captured the imagination and praise of many Canadians when we took our demands for scientific integrity to the bargaining table.
With the Harper government ready and willing to use yet another omnibus bill - C-59 - to override our constitutional rights, together with our federal union partners we initiated a complaint to the International Labour Organization and, most importantly, sought a court injunction to block their action.
President Daviau recognized the members of the Board of Directors for their leadership on the front lines of our mobilization and engagement work across the country.
While the federal election and Treasury Board bargaining were the biggest ticket items in 2015, we had many other successes.
Our CRPEG members at Canadian Nuclear Labs fought off a serious threat to their pension plan and successfully ratified an agreement.
With hardworking leaders like Vince Frisina and Jonathan Fitzpatrick they showed just how a campaign that focuses on public interest issues can support a strong stand in defence of pensions at the bargaining table.
At the same time, our New Brunswick groups have continued their fight to reverse the previous provincial PC government's imposition of a Target Benefit pension plan in their province.
And many of our NB groups also ratified collective agreements.
I am so proud of our leaders, just when we truly needed to stand shoulder to shoulder and back to back with all of our energy focused on one of the most serious challenges we have ever faced, they held to that commitment and set a tremendous example for all of us.
To defend public service professionals and the public service, we've learned how important it is to build stronger relationships with our allies and to work together with them to achieve broader social progress.
For 2016, we've set our sights on Restoring the Balance.
Canada's public service professionals know only too well how much damage was done during the Harper years.
Restoring the balance means repealing outrageously one-sided and unfair anti-labour legislation like Bills C-377 and C-525.
Restoring the balance means reinvesting in critical programs and services that keep Canadians healthy, safe and prosperous.
It means leaving behind a hyper-partisan and secretive government that was allergic to evidence so that we can reclaim the independent, professional, transparent, and evidence-based public service we all signed up for!
Restoring the balance means moving beyond a government whose political leaders modelled and promoted disrespect of the public service and those of us who work in it and rebuilding at every level relationships that are based on mutual respect and integrity.
And, of course, restoring the balance means rejecting anti-democratic laws and returning to free and fair collective bargaining.
We need to build on what we've accomplished so far.
Yes, we need to celebrate our victories, but if we don't do what we must to ensure real change - through engagement, mobilization and advocacy - history tells us that we will stop making progress.
When it comes to collective bargaining we've achieved an important objective - a government willing to level the playing field.
But now, we have to step back onto that field and work for the win.
So as we head back to the bargaining table we should be hopeful and optimistic but also as committed as ever to engaging every member in every workplace in this critical process.
To make real progress on contracting out, solid data and strong arguments are essential, but the facts and the messages must be assembled into a campaign that reaches out, connects, communicates and wins.
On science, the opportunity to make real progress is here.
We need to continue to push to enshrine scientific integrity in collective agreements.
We also need to take a seat at the table where we can work constructively with others to make genuine change.
These are all part of the big task before us in 2016 - restoring the federal public service so that it can truly serve Canadians and their aspirations. it is just as important as it has ever been for us to stand together.
It is my great privilege to serve as your President and to stand with all of you.
We are truly better together.
Publish Date: 06-NOV-2015 11:02 AM