The TR bargaining team met again with the Employer and the mediator on March 21, 22 and 23. The tone was civil, and the Employer submitted updated versions of its offers on the two remaining contentious issues: remote simultaneous interpretation and wages. On the first issue, we were given little explanation of what was being offered, so we have taken the time to analyze the Employer's proposal and highlight some of the negative impacts it would have on our members. On wages, it seems that keeping up with inflation is still an obstacle for a deal. According to the Employer, you should accept what amounts to a decrease in your purchasing power.
Nevertheless, we went back to the table on April 12. At our request, the CEO of the Translation Bureau was present to hear our arguments and participate in the deliberations. The meeting planned on April 14 was cancelled by the Employer.
As a reminder, it was in the summer of 2021, almost nine months before the Collective Agreement expired, that CAPE first contacted the Treasury Board. Our goal was to begin discussions early on in an attempt to reach a deal before the expiry of the agreement and avoid problems with Phoenix, but the lack of bargaining resources at the Treasury Board made this impossible. Still, we were told that negotiations would be brief and were implicitly encouraged to submit a reduced list of demands.
We obliged and prepared ourselves throughout the fall of 2021. In December, we gave our notice to bargain as required by law. We were ready with our list. Unfortunately, the Employer was not.
It was not until March 2022 that we exchanged proposals and began the actual negotiations. This was more than a year ago. We are far from the quick deal we hoped to achieve.
Needless to say, the TR group is different from the rest of the federal public service. This is especially true for interpreters who sustain injuries during remote simultaneous interpretation, which has resulted in many taking sick leave or reassignments. To come to a satisfactory agreement, the Employer must show us how it can protect our members, as directed by the the Labour Program.
A reminder that, if this fails, CAPE will have to apply to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board for arbitration. This would be the first in a very long time. A possible request for arbitration does not prevent the parties from continuing to try to reach an agreement.