Montreal, August 16, 2013 — In a series of general assemblies beginning August 20, Canada’s 7500 federal correctional officers will vote on whether to accept an agreement-in-principle to renew a labour contract that expired in May 2010. Ratification votes will conclude September 9.
The tentative agreement between the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (UCCO-SACC-CSN) and the Treasury Board of Canada was reached July 23, but federal negotiators requested an information embargo on its contents until today. Last spring, a parallel negotiating process with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) produced a tentative Global Agreement on operational matters, which members will also be asked to vote on.
The agreement with Treasury Board would implement a 9.25% pay increase over a four-year contract, among other improvements to working conditions.
UCCO-SACC-CSN National President Kevin Grabowsky hailed his members’ determination to resist federal government attempts to force them into a negotiating pattern that ignored the specific demands of their workplace.
“For more than three years, we refused to be bullied and intimidated,” said Mr. Grabowsky. “We fought with facts, creative pressure tactics and, above all, with solidarity.”
The union’s national executive is recommending that members
vote to adopt the agreements. The deals include improvements to overtime and annual leave, and a system to fairly compensate statutory holidays in a workplace that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As well, the tentative contract strengthens seniority rights, expands training programs and improves security practices for officers on outside escorts.
While the union finally accepted Treasury Board’s main demand to eliminate severance pay on resignation or retirement, these funds will continue to accumulate until a new collective agreement is signed. In return, the union fought for and obtained an annual Correctional Officer Allowance of $1750, which represents a pay increase of approximately 2.5%. This provision allows compensation for correctional officers to stay in a range comparable to RCMP officers, a key union demand.
“This was a tough negotiating round,” observed Kevin Grabowsky. “The federal government was using the current economic context to weaken working conditions and our ability to bargain collectively. As a union we can be very proud of the way we resisted these attacks.
“However, we will already be back at the negotiating table next spring, and we hope we will find a more respectful attitude for the dangerous work our members perform to protect all Canadians at 52 federal penitentiaries.”
For more information, Lyle Stewart, CSN communications service (514) 796-2066.