Our bargaining team met with SSO during the week of May 1. The team started the week in caucus, where we had planned to review SSO’s proposals, but unfortunately the documents provided by our employer contained many errors and lacked clarity. This made it impossible for us to do our work of analyzing their proposals.
Tuesday, we were pleased to meet all members of the employer’s bargaining team. We communicated the problems with their proposals and the lack of professionalism this demonstrated. In response they requested the rest of the day to review their proposals, but first, SSO’s Director General Geoff Bowlby presented us with an overview of SSO operations.
Employer proposes concessions
The rest of the week, we heard from our employer about the changes proposed during this round of negotiations. The union is concerned about some of these proposals. SSO wants to restrict union leave and the participation of union representatives in solving problems in the workplace. SSO has proposed eliminating the requirement for management to provide operational justification when denying leave requests, a right we won in the last arbitration. There are also proposals to limit protections against harassment and discrimination, maternity-related job modification and leave, bereavement leave and family related leave. We have been clear with the employer that we will not negotiate concessions. We are at the table to negotiate improvements for our members.
Status as federal public servants
We need to tell you we encountered a serious underlying problem in meetings with our employer this week. During the last round of bargaining, our arbitral awards clearly stated that SSO employees are federal public servants, but throughout the week our employer repeatedly said that it does not acknowledge our status as public servants. The employer uses this argument to deny us working conditions comparable to other public servants, including those we work alongside at Statistics Canada.
Your local representatives will be contacting you soon about participating in our union’s activities to make it clear to SSO that we will not stand for this.