Labour board sides with striking diplomats

Federal government did not bargain in good faith, ruling says
||Last Updated: 09/16/2013

The labour relations board has sided with Canada’s striking foreign diplomats, saying the government did not come to the bargaining table in good faith.

On Sept. 13, the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) ruled in favour of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), arguing the Treasury Board violated its obligation to bargain in good-faith with its diplomats.

In its decision, the labour board said the federal government did not make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement. The union representing foreign diplomats lauded the decision and called on the Treasury Board to resume negotiations.

“Today’s decision shows it is time for the Prime Minister and the government to do the responsible thing and reach a negotiated settlement which would put an end to this damaging strike,” said Tim Edwards, PAFSO’s president. “The severe and mounting impacts this strike on the Canadian economy could have been avoided if the government had acted in good faith and engaged in free and fair bargaining from the start. This is now one of the longest strikes in public service history, and with the potential damage approaching $1 billion, we think Canada has suffered more than enough already. The time has come for the Government to change tack.”

PAFSO filed the complaint with the labour board back in July after the government tried to impose six preconditions following the union’s offer of free arbitration. However, those conditions were unacceptable, the union argued. Their main concern has been equal pay for equal work, in comparison to other federal employees.

Back when the union filed the complaint, Minister Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, said PAFSO’s demands were unreasonable, as it weighted its workers against incomparable jobs in the public service.

Since then, Treasury Board has reached collective agreements with three of its other public service groups, including correctional officers, aviation inspectors and technical services.

Diplomats at Canadian embassies across the globe have been on strike since the end of May and without a contract since mid-2011.

The federal government is currently deciding whether or not to appeal the bad-faith bargaining ruling.

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