Correctional officers fight for right to be heard – Union files lawsuit against federal salary clawback
(OTTAWA—October 6, 2010) Demonstrating outside Treasury Board headquarters today, about 300 correctional officers from more than 20 federal penitentiaries in Ontario and Quebec vowed not to be silenced by a government that is apparently determined to muzzle their union’s voice by imposing a one-size-fits-all labour contract.
To that end, lawyers for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) filed suit in Federal Court this morning against the government’s unilateral reduction of a negotiated salary increase during the last year of its collective agreement, which expired May 31.
Pierre Mallette, the union’s national president, warned that the tentative agreement reached this week after so-called “exploratory talks” between Treasury Board and the largest federal civil service union will not be accepted as a model for negotiations that have yet to begin in earnest.
“We’ve had one meeting with Treasury Board since our contract expired four months ago, but the government is able to reach agreements in record speed with unions whose collective agreements don’t expire until next summer,” Mr. Mallette observed. “We can only hope we see the same respect when we finally get back to the table. Our members cannot accept an imposed contract that does not respect our distinct working conditions.”
Following a silent march down Laurier Avenue to Treasury Board offices in the Canadian capital, officers loudly removed symbolic gags to express their anger at the government’s efforts to silence their voice at the negotiating table. They then deposited pages displaying the signatures of government negotiators on the collective agreement negotiated in 2006 in garbage cans in front of a banner asking, “What is your signature worth?”
“There are 7,000 federal correctional officers across Canada wondering whether the government will respect its signature on their next collective agreement. Our members showed today they are willing to do what it takes to hold Treasury Board to its word,” said Mr. Mallette.
For information: Lyle Stewart, CSN union advisor, 514 796-2066.