EC and TR collective bargaining: CAPE's principal demands

During this round of bargaining, the employer will make every attempt to roll back workers’ rights, particularly with respect to sick leave. In contrast, CAPE’s teams of researchers and negotiators, following consultations with the membership, have developed a series of contract demands designed to improve the terms and conditions of employment of CAPE members while facilitating a more efficient delivery of government services to the Canadian public.

It would be unrealistic to think that the employer will welcome all of these demands. Nevertheless, it is important to present the essence of the principal demands because, to a certain degree, they reflect CAPE’s long-term vision for the terms and conditions of employment of its members.

A- Harassment
At present, the collective agreement refers solely to sexual harassment. Recently published reports, however, indicate that about 30% of federal government employees claim to have been victims of various forms of harassment. For this reason, CAPE wants to broaden considerably the definition of the word harassment in the collective agreement to match the definition contained in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

B- Leave with or without pay
Numerous changes are needed to truly modernize the collective agreement in this area – too many to mention, in fact, but here is a list of the main focus points: Family Day, the third Monday of February, is already celebrated in five Canadian provinces (Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan); bereavement leave; leave for family-related responsibilities; personnel selection leave; leave for personal needs; and leave for medical appointments or dental care.

In addition, CAPE believes that the collective agreement should include a provision obliging the employer to provide, at the employee’s request, written explanations of the operational requirements justifying the denial of a leave request.

C- Training and career development
CAPE is demanding improvements to education leave and the creation of an allowance of $1,500 per year to be used for professional training purposes.

D- Overtime
CAPE members should be able to carry compensatory leave credits over into the following year.

E- Performance assessment
CAPE is asking for a performance assessment procedure to be written into the collective agreement. This would entitle employees who are not satisfied with their performance assessments to file grievances. We know already that the employer agrees in principle with the wording of the procedure proposed by CAPE. This procedure reflects the principles recognized in performance management jurisprudence. One of its strongest benefits is that it establishes a clear distinction between performance issues and matters of discipline.

F- Workload
CAPE believes that staff reductions within a given department or agency should not result in excessive workloads for the remaining employees.

G- Telework
This is an issue that should have been discussed in the previous round of collective bargaining, but unfortunately was not. CAPE believes the time has come to establish specific rules governing telework so that employees who wish to do so can perform their work on premises other than those of the employer. Naturally, these rules will have to take into account the respective interests of both the employer and the employees. It is important that the same rules apply to all members of the bargaining unit in order to avoid the creation of a patchwork of measures in different departments and agencies.

H- Workplace accommodation
CAPE wants to establish an ongoing consultation process on all matters pertaining to office design. It would be necessary to create consultation committees on this subject, while allowing the health and safety committees of the respective departments and agencies to play an advisory role.

This would better circumscribe public service workers’ right to be treated like employees in the workplace, and not like consultants or other types of workers with whom the employer does not have an employer-employee relationship.