National Joint Council: The impact of current changes is felt differently by the employer and unions

October 04, 2012 From September 19 to 21, public service bargaining agents and employers’ representatives met in Saskatoon for the National Joint Council (NJC) annual seminar. Under the theme “Working Together in Times of Change”, the seminar aimed at taking stock of the challenges and opportunities currently facing the public service and at strengthening the relationship between bargaining agents and the employer.
Created in 1944, the National Joint Council is a forum where participating employers and bargaining agents take joint ownership of broad labour relations issues and develop collaborative solutions to workplace problems. The NJC role is to allow parties to share information, to consult on workplace policies and to co-develop directives which provide public service-wide benefits. CAPE is a member of the NJC, along with seventeen other bargaining agents of the federal public service.
Held during a government-wide spending review which will lead to a suppression of 19,200 public service jobs, the annual seminar had the parties exchange on different issues: challenges in the renewal of the public service, challenges with the Workforce adjustment and how to conduct meaningful consultation.
While employers representatives explained the current cuts will not hamper the public service and it is seen as an opportunity to work differently with fewer resources, bargaining agents were critical of the role of department heads and Treasury Board in dealing with affected employees. In particular, the unions underlined that Treasury Board is not doing its job to oversee the respect of the Work Force Adjustment Directive (WFAD) by departments. While some departments are following the directive, many are not which leads to employees being treated unfairly and has forced many unions, including CAPE, to file grievances.
Treasury Board’s representatives were not able to say if measures will be put in place to help heal the workplace once this round of cuts is concluded. The bargaining agents felt they are not asked to play a meaningful role in helping to ease the process and that insufficient resources have been put in place to help the transition. The overall conclusion reached by the unions is that a lot of employees will leave the public services involuntary because managers in departments were not prepared to implement the cuts, did not follow the WFAD procedures and that Treasury Board is refusing to step in and to work with departments to modify their approach.
For more details on the NJC, visit its website: http://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/index.php?lang=eng
You can also read the General Secretary’s 2011-2012 Annual Report to the NJC: http://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/doc.php?sid=83&lang=eng