Correctional Services Canada Reprimanded for Urging Employees to Resign and Apply for Lower Level Jobs

Ottawa: The Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) has ruled in favour of the Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada in its formal complaint against Correctional Services Canada (CSC) for its handling of employees whose jobs were being eliminated.

In 2012, Correctional Services moved to centralize its food services for 29 of its 57 institutions by establishing food production centres where meals would be prepared, chilled and distributed for subsequent re-heating. In so doing, food services workers who were not selected for comparable employment were urged to resign from CSC with the option to re-apply for lower level positions that paid just two thirds as much as their previous jobs. 

“USGE and the Public Service Alliance of Canada never believed that it was within the rights of CSC to compel food services workers to resign in order to apply for lower level jobs. I am pleased that the adjudicator agreed. We will now be seeking redress for our food services workers who were forced to take a significant pay cut,” said Stan Stapleton, President, USGE. 

In its decision, the PSLREB concluded that Correctional Services Canada was wrong when they announced that salary protection would be limited to those attaining positions that were just one level lower. Salary protection provisions compel federal government employers to maintain the salary of staff for whom they are unable to find employment at the same level. 

The decision doesn’t mean that all food service workers are entitled to salary protection, regardless of their position. However, the adjudicator agreed with both USGE and PSAC that CSC had violated the collective agreement when they strongly advised employees to resign in order that they be rehired at a lower level. 

“The approach taken by CSC is arbitrary and flies in the face of the clear language of the collective agreement… Its advice to employees to resign and apply as external candidates was…wrong,” wrote Adjudicator Margaret Shannon. 

The decision now requires the employer and the union to review certain food services jobs on a case by case basis to determine which jobs offers are reasonable and subject to full salary protection. This will likely significantly open up the range of reasonable job offers for surplus employees. USGE and PSAC also plan to review any cases where salary protection has been denied to food services workers in which case they will ensure an adjustment to their previous salary levels, with retroactivity for lost wages.