UCCO-SACC-CSN members mark three years of working without a contract
Montreal, May 31, 2013 — Federal correctional officers are holding information picket lines outside 52 Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) penitentiaries between 6 am and 7 am this morning to observe the third anniversary that they have worked without a valid collective agreement.
The labour contract for the 7,500 members of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) expired May 31, 2010. This morning’s actions express growing frustration among the membership with the refusal by Treasury Board of Canada negotiators to take into account the dangerous nature of their work in an increasingly violent correctional system.
“In the last three years, we have seen much more conflict among inmates and attacks on staff,” said UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Kevin Grabowsky. “The federal government is failing to recognize the growing risks correctional officers take every day to keep Canadians safe.”
UCCO-SACC-CSN is demanding the government continue to respect the principle enshrined in the last collective agreement, namely that remuneration for correctional officers be maintained within a range afforded comparable groups such as RCMP officers. The current Treasury Board offer would greatly widen this gap.
The Conservative government also unilaterally clawed back a negotiated raise in the final year of the union’s last contract. In addition, the Treasury Board continues to demand that members surrender their right to severance pay.
“Treasury Board President Tony Clement always says he fully supports the correctional officers who work at the two institutions in his riding and across the country,” noted Mr. Grabowsky. “Support has to be more than just talk. It is time for Mr. Clement to step up and give a real mandate to his negotiators.”
After a series of crime bills, rapid expansion and then sudden cutbacks, the Correctional Service is a department under great strain, observed Mr. Grabowsky. He noted that public service employee surveys consistently show that CSC employees suffer the lowest morale and highest levels of stress in the federal government.
“We are seeing pressure from government decisions at every turn: from needlessly closing three institutions, which is exacerbating a huge problem with double bunking, to cutting access to programs and other rehabilitation services,” he said. “All these decisions make our jobs much more difficult. We will continue to do our jobs protecting Canadians. We simply want the government to recognize the value of our dangerous work at the negotiating table.”
Last December, Treasury Board requested conciliation. While the union is participating in this process, it believes direct negotiations are the best way to reach an agreement. After a union request, a face-to-face negotiating meeting is now set for next week with Treasury Board.