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The Phoenix tidal wave

The Phoenix tidal wave has already left a trail of destruction. But don’t kid yourself: there’s more damage to come. The pay system’s woes are still front-page news.

The auditor general’s June 2018 report on Phoenix contains troubling figures. According to its forecasts, $500 million a year will be needed to operate and stabilize the system, and the most optimistic estimates say that the stabilization period will last at least five years. Next, consider the $360 million already spent since 2016 in unexpected costs.

The government claims it has resolved most of the payroll problems faced by federal public service workers. However, the Phoenix fiasco is far from over, and the weak excuses from Marie Lemay, deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement, won’t do anything to stem the long-term costs Phoenix will entail.

So, what about those most directly affected? Federal public service workers haven’t received any sort of compensation. Yet, they’ve continued to provide quality service to Canadians despite the multiple repercussions of Phoenix. Many have had to postpone their retirement, to cancel their vacations, and to contend with income tax complications, in addition to shouldering the direct impact of income loss. Try to imagine the stress this financial instability has on these workers.

For two years now, PSAC has fought to have the rights of its members respected. In September 2016, for example, we filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. Our complaint to the Board alleges that the government violated collective agreement provisions on technological change. We filed a second complaint in October 2017 in an effort to secure remedial action for our members after the Treasury Board missed the November 1, 2017 deadline for implementing our new collective agreements.

In December 2016, we won a court order forcing the government to improve access to assistance for individuals on parental, maternity and disability leave. The order also required the government to maintain the staffing levels needed to resolve ongoing compensation issues. PSAC also convinced the Treasury Board to reimburse our members for penalties, interest and other fees they’ve incurred because of payroll problems.

Now we are demanding a national public inquiry into the Phoenix payroll system. We need to unearth the cause of its failure to avoid another disaster of this magnitude down the road.

The government must take responsibility for this massive debacle

1. Call for help: 1-855-686-4729.

2. File a grievance. Consult your local union representative for help writing it.

3. Submit a claim to the government for your additional expenses and financial losses. Submit your claim here: https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/pay/phoenix.html

4. Send a request directly to Justin Trudeau. Go to the PSAC website for more information: http://phoenix.psacunion.ca/en/learnmore/

5. Stay abreast of PSAC’s campaign. Share publications on social media: https://www.facebook.com/psac.national/videos/10155883579663422/