I would like to address a few issues that have been raised by the employer’s memo of Feb 19, 2015
Last spring the government tabled a budget that called for a continued wage freeze for the broader public services with the exception of child care, PSW’s and developmental services. They acknowledged that these sectors were underpaid and announced money to help deal with this issue. The problem then became how to apply this money so they pulled together a table of interested parties which included CUPE, and OPSEU. Both unions stood firm on the belief that this money should not be used for pay equity purposes. Agreement was reached by the parties with the unions understanding that this money was for general wage increases as promised in December 2014. Bob says he has been told that he can use this funding for pay equity. Yesterday when we asked him to provide that in writing he indicated that the information was not stated clearly. Yesterday at bargaining the union suggested we put together a conference call with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services to clarify the issue for all parties so we could continue bargaining. The employer refused.
Pay Equity is a separate issue. The employer has an order from the Pay Equity Commission which he is challenging. This matter is before the commission with both sides retaining legal counsel awaiting a ruling and enforcement. For this reason the local is not in agreement that this issue be dealt with at the bargaining table.
A number of employers have maintained their pay equity obligations. For all these employees this money will go to wage increases as it was intended. Why should you receive less because our employer is delinquent in his pay equity legal obligations to you, his employees?
The union is not refusing the offer of pay equity but it is our opinion that the pay equity be applied above and beyond the current funding that is expected shortly. If the employer would like to comply with the law and pay it out we would be pleased to accept. The employer indicated that we were greedy to take this stand but we of course do not agree.
We have now requested the assistance of a conciliation officer from the Ministry of Labour. We are lucky that the officer assigned actually attended the meetings held with the interested parties. She can then clarify what was agreed to by the parties. CUPE has continued to request written conformation around how the funding is to be applied. Hopefully the employer can agree to dates provided by the officer in April so we can conclude this bargaining.