PIPSC files Labour Board complaint over the Canada Revenue Agency’s about-face on telework

The Connaught Building in Ottawa, headquarters of the Canada Revenue Agency. Photo: Google Streetview
By Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC)

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, on behalf of its Audit Financial and Scientific (AFS) Group members, has filed a bad faith bargaining complaint against the Canada Revenue Agency. The complaint concerns the Agency’s recent decision to impose a “one-size-fits-all” return to office edict rather than continue to negotiate telework at the bargaining table.

PIPSC members and the CRA have been in negotiations since October 2022, where telework has been established as a top priority for AFS members, and where PIPSC and the employer have both exchanged proposals on the issue. Yet at the January 17-19, 2023 bargaining meeting, the CRA said it no longer had any intention of including any telework language in the collective agreement.

“You cannot just remove a core issue from the table – which has been established as a top priority for members – and call it anything other than a bad faith maneuver,” said PIPSC President Jennifer Carr. “The CRA’s about-face subverts what has already been accomplished at the table and delays or even prevents the conclusion of an agreement. Keep in mind this is the same government that promised a new era of collaboration with members of the public service – but has chosen again to shut the door on negotiating, in favour of imposing a wildly unpopular edict.”

The CRA expects all of its employees to return to the office for 2 days a week as opposed to continuing to telework on a mostly full time basis, as AFS members have been doing safely and productively since March 2020.

“Given our demonstrated dedication to Canadians, public service delivery, and our employer, it would be reasonable to assume that the CRA would be willing to recognize our rights to fair consideration in telework requests,” said AFS Group Bargaining Chair, Doug Mason.

The CRA’s edict mimics the Treasury Board’s December directive – a “one-size-fits-all” approach to telework that PIPSC has opposed since it was announced.

“From the beginning, we’ve been clear that bulldozing through a directive like this in the middle of bargaining doesn’t bode well for good faith negotiations, and will cause more problems than it solves,” said Carr. “The proof is now in the pudding. We are looking to the government to stop barreling towards an unnecessary confrontation and bring this issue back to the table, where it belongs.”

“The pandemic forced governments to modernize labour practices, and these practices need to be embedded into employee contracts. It protects everyone. It’s just good labour practice.” PIPSC represents over 70,000 members across Canada, and over 14,000 AFS members employed at the CRA.