I’m writing you today to talk about the importance of staying strong in front of the many challenges imposed on us by the government. Almost two years ago, we adopted a theme for this negotiating round. This theme is straightforward, but very important: Securing our Future.
Now, with all the adversity we face, this theme is taking on even more importance. We are now seeing a frontal attack by the government on the people who are responsible for ensuring public safety in Canada. Many of our colleagues working in other public-safety occupations are also facing attacks on their fundamental values. Despite this, public safety must be protected.
For us, the list is long: closures of institutions, transfers of more than 600 correctional officers, elimination of CO positions in Community Correctional Centres, restructuring of minimum-security institutions, huge impacts on inmate population management, impacts on our security, double bunking, angry inmates.
The government says it is “tough on crime,” but it acts without consultation or respect for correctional officers. We are stuck with implementing a plan that has no logic at all. This government’s methods are unacceptable. When all these changes are considered together, they add up to a direct attack on our future. Let’s face it: the future for our new correctional officers is worrying.
The government adds insult to injury: despite two years of negotiations, Treasury Board has still not dealt with our priorities on working conditions. Even worse, when the government presented their demand on severance pay, it did not respect the important principle of presenting their entire package of bargaining demands at the outset of negotiations. The Treasury Board team arrived with this new demand months after negotiations were already underway. And only now are talks at the table for two-tiered negotiations beginning, while we still have much work to do to settle the Global Agreement.
Securing our Future begins with respect for the rules established in the past. We asked the employer to recognize the difficulties that will be imposed on us over the coming years. But their lack of respect for correctional officers is evident in the fact that they make no distinction between our working conditions and those of other groups with whom we have nothing in common.
Treasury Board needs to understand that we established a comparison standard with the RCMP during our last negotiations. This is how we accepted to make reality-based comparisons with, among others, working hours. This is how we ended up with a 40-hour workweek, for example.
Today, Securing our Future means to respect what we have become and what we will be for future generations. As members of UCCO-SACC-CSN, we have to be aware of the challenges we face and maintain our solidarity during the difficult moments to come.
I understand your growing anger, and I share it. But save it for the employer representatives who say NO to your legitimate contract demands and who refuse to respect your work and your rights.
Dear members, I have immense respect for the work we do. Let’s be proud of who we are and what we do. Very few people would be able to work the meanest streets in our country, as we do every day with pride, dignity and solidarity.