EC and TR teams opt for a return to arbitration

Backto 2013

At the start of June 2016, Treasury Board President Scott Brison sent a letter to all federal public service unions confirming the Government of Canada’s intention to repeal the provisions of Bill C-4 adopted in 2013 that had radically altered the playing field with respect to collective bargaining. Until these legislative changes come into effect, Treasury Board is proposing interim measures applicable to the current round of collective bargaining, including an opportunity to once again choose the arbitration route as a dispute settlement mechanism in the event of an impasse at the bargaining table. It's important to note that Treasury Board must be formally notified of the decision to opt for arbitration no later than September 1, 2016.

CAPE’s bargaining teams have discussed the matter and have come to the conclusion that the Association’s members would be better protected by a return to some form of equitable arbitration.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison’s letter of June 3, 2016, outlines a number of actions intended to level the playing field and return the current round of collective bargaining to conditions similar to those that existed before the Conservative government rewrote the relevant sections of the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) with the passage of Bill C-4 in 2013. According to Mr. Brison’s letter, CAPE must officially inform Treasury Board by September 1 of its choice of a dispute resolution method for impasses at the bargaining table.

We were forced onto the conciliation/strike route by the previous government, and we will remain on that route unless we formally advise Treasury Board of our intention to switch to another option. The two available alternatives are:

  1. a return to arbitration, but factoring in a number of unfair rules established under C-4 involving a hierarchy of factors favouring the employer, which an arbitrator would have to take into account in reaching a decision; or
  2. a return to rules similar to the arbitration rules that existed prior to C-4 – now referred to as “binding conciliation” in Mr. Brison’s letter.

The EC and TR bargaining teams examined the pros and cons of both options and are in agreement that the interests of members would best be served by opting for what Treasury Board calls “binding conciliation” for the current round of bargaining. There are still a few questions we would like the employer to answer to our satisfaction, however, before we formally advise Treasury Board of our decision to opt for this “binding conciliation” route.

We also want to make certain that there is no tidal wave of opinion running through the membership in favour of another option. If you have strong opinions on this subject, please share them as quickly as possible with CAPE’s research officer at the following email address: