26 September 2023

CANADA: No union joy in Public Service Week

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A Canadian union has rained on the parade of the country’s annual National Public Service Week, releasing data that shows the majority of public employees no longer feel valued by the Government.

While Ministers were making the usual speeches about “recognising the importance of the services rendered by Federal Public Service employees”, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) said its members were smarting under the Government’s Return To Office (RTO) policies.

President of the PIPSC, Jennifer Carr said six months into the implementation of a one-size-fits-all return to office order “our members report that the policy has undermined their productivity, increased their cost of living, forced them to waste time in traffic – and it hasn’t improved collaboration”.

She said 70 per cent of respondents to a union survey reported being dissatisfied with how RTO policies were implemented — citing issues like commuting time and cost, work-life balance, and environmental impacts as top concerns.

“Positive outcomes are hard to identify with 61 per cent of respondents saying productivity has gotten worse, and most saying collaboration is at best neutral,” Ms Carr (pictured) said.

“Public Service professionals have been ordered into an office to be part of a Zoom or Teams call they could have dialled into from home. The proposed benefits of returning to the office are nowhere to be found.”

She said one key issue was that in spite of having been issued an RTO directive, the majority of Federal employees no longer had dedicated offices to return to — “in fact, 65 per cent of respondents are still sharing work-stations,” Ms Carr said.

“We continue to advocate for what was promised: A hybrid-by-design approach that considers employees’ unique circumstances and job requirements.”

She said it was time for the Government to work with unions to develop a modern workplace that included flexible work arrangements, properly equipped work spaces, and a high priority on health and safety.

The PIPSC represents more than 72,000 Public Service professionals working for the Federal Government as well as some Provincial Departments and Agencies.

Ottawa, 16 June 2023

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