COMMENTARY: Public Service Workers Burned by Phoenix

National Public Service Week (NPSW) was created in 1992 to recognize the value of the services rendered by federal public service employees and to acknowledge the contribution of federal public service employees to the federal administration.  While public service workers are still not getting paid correctly, they still show up to work every day to deliver quality public services to Canadians. How will this government recognize its workers during the week of June 10-16 when it can’t even pay them correctly?

It’s been over two years since the Government of Canada implemented the Phoenix pay system, and yet they still can’t pay their employees accurately and on time. All of this could have been avoided if only they would have listened to the unions when we sounded the alarm prior to, and during, the implementation of the system.

The struggle is real. Some workers have lost their homes because they couldn’t pay their mortgage while others had to borrow money from friends and family members in order to pay bills and put food on the table. Everyone can relate and have sympathy for these workers because after all, when you show up to work and help Canadians accessing public services, at the very least you expect to get paid on payday.

Most of these workers are represented by us, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Let’s be frank here, the steps taken by the government in order to alleviate difficulties encountered because of the Phoenix Pay System have happened as a result of the pressures by the PSAC and other unions.

To this day, we’ve successfully secured compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, forced the government to expand access to emergency pay, negotiated measures to attract and retain compensation advisors (who are needed in both the pay centre and back in the departments) and we keep raising public awareness and lobbying Members of Parliament, just to name a few achievements.

On behalf of our union, I wish to thank every public service worker for their continued dedication. They take their job and responsibility seriously and they see first-hand the importance of delivering public services to Canadians. The union recognizes and values the work that they do and we will continue to defend them vigorously.

We will not rest until every federal public service worker is paid correctly, on time, every time.

Colleen Coffey
Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic Region
Public Service Alliance of Canada