Sick leave dispute reaches stalemate

The largest federal civil service union has asked that a mediator be appointed in a dispute that has dragged on for over two years.

Sick leave dispute reaches stalemate
The largest federal civil service union has asked that a mediator be appointed in a dispute with the government that has dragged on for more than two years.

Contract negotiations aimed at reaching a settlement resumed at the beginning of the month, when the Treasury Board proposed a way to deal with the most contentious issue at the table _ reforms to employee sick leave.

The government also proposed pay raises totalling 2.25 per cent over three years, the first proposal it had made on wages in months.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents about 90,000 federal employees, says some progress has been made over nine days of talks.
But some key issues have yet to be resolved, it adds.

The union backed off a wage demand of more than nine per cent over three years, reducing that to 2.75 per cent in each year within the same time frame.
If a mediator is named to intervene in the talks, bargaining could resume within two weeks, the union said.

``We've gone as far as we can,'' said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.

``This government promised to respect public service workers and restore the integrity of the public services Canadians rely on,'' She said. ``They have not yet delivered on that promise.''

Until talks resumed Nov. 1, Treasury Board President Scott Brison had said he wanted to ``modernize'' sick leave, but was sticking with a plan hatched by the previous Conservative government to replace existing sick-leave provisions, which allow public servants to bank any unused portion of the 15 days of sick leave they are granted annually for use later.

But the government entered the latest round of negotiations proposing to create a task force with a mandate to improve what it called ``employee wellness.''

Under the proposal, the task force would create committees to examine wellness issues and prepare recommendations that could be brought back to future rounds of bargaining.

PSAC has been adamant that its members want to retain the existing sick-leave system and the sick leave they have banked over the years.
A spokesman for Brison did not respond to a request for comment.
  • The Canadian Press
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