What a difference a year makes. Not!
During last year’s election, Justin Trudeau, leader of the then-third-place Liberals, made a specific commitment to federal public service workers in an effort to win their votes:
“I have a fundamentally different view than Stephen Harper of our public service. Where he sees an adversary, I see a partner. I believe that in order to have a public service that is valued by Canadians, and a source of pride for its members, it must be valued by its government.”
Our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, is now launching a media campaign to prompt the Prime Minister to make good on those words.
In print and radio ads, the PSAC is pointedly reminding Trudeau that “You said you’d be different. Make good on your word”.
Deeds, not words, matter in the real world. A year into the new Liberal government, and it’s like the Conservatives never left. At the bargaining table, where it matters most to Agriculture Union members, Trudeau’s words have run hollow.
The Liberals have yet to deal with the controversial Harper legislation that completely changed the rules that had governed collective bargaining in the public service for the past 50 years. Management negotiators are still using the Conservative playbook. The ‘new’ government has put forward a short-term disability proposal almost identical to that of the Conservatives.
As a result, talks for a new contract for our members employed by Treasury Board are close to an impasse. Negotiations for a new collective agreement at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are little better.
Robyn Benson, PSAC National President, says she hopes the media campaign will result in a reset of bargaining around the agenda Trudeau and the Liberals promised.
“Last year, Mr. Trudeau wrote to all public service workers promising to treat them with respect and restore the cuts made by Stephen Harper. It has been a year since the election. The tone has changed, but it’s now time for action”