Over 50 USGE members working in the Pacific Region of the Correctional Service Canada, whose hours of work were changed in 2014 during bargaining with Treasury Board, have won back pay and benefits after USGE and PSAC filed a complaint.
The Federal Public Service Labour Relations Act, like other labour laws in Canada, contains a provision that freezes the terms and conditions contained in collective agreements on the day that notice to bargain a new agreement is given. The freeze continues until a new agreement is either negotiated or awarded by an arbitrator, or until a strike takes place.
“The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board accepted the union’s argument that by changing established hours of work during the bargaining process, the employer clearly violated the law,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “Freezing terms and conditions at the start of bargaining is important because it provides a stable work environment while negotiations take place.”
This decision is just the latest one confirming that while employers may have certain rights under a collective agreement to make changes, they cannot make those changes during the freeze period except in limited situations or with the union’s consent.
On November 1, 2014, the Pacific Region of the Correctional Service Canada reduced the work week to four days for term workers. Hours of work for 45 employees in the Program and Administration (PA) were reduced from 37.5 to 30 and for six term employees in the Operational Services (SV) group reduced from 40 to 32. While the employer restored their hours as of April 1, 2015, they had lost not only pay but leave and pension entitlements as well.
The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board rejected the employer’s arguments and ordered all lost wages and benefits be paid to the affected employees for the period November 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.