Members working as compensation and benefits advisors at what was formerly the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) have recently won a policy grievance regarding Workforce Adjustment (WFA).
The Public Services Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) decided on March 10, 2014, in favour of the compensation and benefits advisors’ union, the PSAC, when it declared the employer, HRSDC, failed to advise and consult with the union about a WFA situation back in October 2011. That was when the employer decided to consolidate 32 compensation services offices across the country into two locations in Winnipeg and Montreal.
The employer had argued that they didn’t need to involve the union at that time because there was no WFA situation given that they hadn’t made a final decision on how the relocation of the offices and positions would be carried out. PSAC argued, however, that the employer had already known, at that time, sufficient information ─ such as the number of jobs being affected in 32 offices and the approximate timeline of the office closings ─ to determine a WFA situation. The adjudicator agreed with the union’s argument and declared that the employer “breached the provisions of the WFAA on or about October 11, 2011.”
The decision has far-reaching implications for the union and other federal public service workers as it now clearly defines what constitutes a WFA situation. This is a step forward in preventing employers from arbitrarily deciding whether or not or when they must follow the provisions in WFA agreements. This will ensure that workers’ rights are protected and that they are receiving all the necessary help and benefits that they are entitled to in situations where their jobs are affected because of relocation, lay-offs or other major changes in the workplace.