UNION NOTES

Union Notes

With the rapidly changing and challenging time we are experiencing with Veterans Affairs, it is even now more important that we communicate and share information on union related issues.  As I commit to strive to improve information sharing, I will draft regular updates to be shared with UVAE members across the country.  These updates will be forwarded to all the local presidents to share with their membership and to post on union bulletin boards in each office.

 Staffing Cuts

On January 17, 2013 the employer announced the next round of cuts.  They stated that 233 VAC employees would receive letters indicating they were either affected or surplus, 186 of these positions would be eliminated by March 31, 2013.  The employer informed the union that they had realized 164 cuts previous to this announcement. The original total figure of 804 positions to be cut has been revised to 784 as 20 positions were transferred to Shared Service Canada.  Using this figure, it looks like we have 434 more cuts to come by 2015 -2016.  These jobs are all front-line services, we have yet to see any significant cuts to the EX group at Head Office. 

District Office Closures

Employees in the district offices slated for closure received word the offices would be closed by February 28, 2014.  We will continue to inform the media on the negative impacts these closures will have on the accessibility of services to veterans. On February 8th, Minister Blaney announced that an access centre would be opened in Charlottetown to provide services to veterans after the Charlottetown District Office was closed.  We have asked senior management on how this centre would be staffed and exactly what types of services would be offered and if other centres would be opened in cities where DO were slated for closure.  They were unable to provide us with any details except to state that as Charlottetown would be the only province without a District Office they wanted to ensure veterans living in P.E.I. had a space to access services.

Workforce Adjustment

With letters flying out fast and furious, we want to ensure that members are researching and getting advice on their options before making their decisions final to the employer in regards to either volunteering to be surplused, alternating, or selecting an option afforded to them under the Workforce Adjustment Appendix.  Please contact your local union rep with any questions or concerns you may have on these matters.  The National President, Yvan Thauvette and I, as NEVP sit on the Workforce Adjustment Committee with senior management and are able to forward members’ concerns and questions to Senior Management’s attention. 

Workload

Members from various offices have been informing us of workload issues. With the new cuts and offices closures, we know this will only exacerbate the situation.  We have brought this issue to management’s attention several times and we are very concerned that offices located closest to offices slated for closure will be hit even harder.  At our Feb 27th WFA Committee meeting, Keith Hillier committed to forming a 4 person committee, consisting of 2 union and 2 management reps with the mandate to review the issues regarding CSA workload.

Grievances

We have received Treasury Board’s decision to deny the policy grievance we filed in regards to VAC’s interpretation of a discontinuance of a function with the CSAs cuts.  We will be referring the grievance to adjudication at the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB).  We have filed a grievance on denial of alternation requests with another dept.  It was heard, denied, and will also be referred to adjudication.  Group job content grievances were submitted for the CSA, CM, and CSTM newly updated work descriptions.  The mediation session for the CSA job content grievance is being held in Toronto from March 11-15, 2013.  The CMs grievance hearing is scheduled for the following week.  The CSTM grievance hearing will be scheduled as soon as a contact/spokesman is appointed from the group of grievers to assist in the grievance presentation.

Ste-Anne’s Transfer

We received word that the hospital will be transferred to the Quebec Province on September 30, 2013.  On Feb 25, 2013 the National President met with the department’s negotiator, Richard Neville, who was unable to provide any information on the terms and conditions that were negotiated for the employees.  UVAE had asked that a committee be formed to discuss the terms and conditions, but the Deputy Minister has refused to grant this request.  As such, we have directed the local to step up their demonstrations and actions in the hospital to push back on the lack of transparency of the transfer.  On Feb 28th, the National President and NEVP presented the DM with 420 grievances from Ste Anne’s members, while a group of Ste. Anne’s employees did a sit in at the hospital and joined at the first of the meeting via telephone with chants of Solidarity.  Later in the meeting, the DM agreed to request that the negotiator have regular meetings with the National President to share updates on the negotiations. 

Deer Lodge Centre

The local is currently busy in negotiations for a new collective agreement as their previous agreement expired March 31, 2012.

In Solidarity,

 

Kim Coles,
National Executive Vice President,
Union of Veterans Affairs Employees