Home Workplace News Public-sector unions log out of Ottawa’s plan to mandate 3 days a week in office, file legal challenge

Public-sector unions log out of Ottawa’s plan to mandate 3 days a week in office, file legal challenge

by HR Law Canada

A coalition of public sector unions, led by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), has initiated legal proceedings against the federal government’s new mandate that requires federal public service workers to spend three days per week in the office.

This directive, affecting more than 260,000 employees, has been met with significant opposition for its lack of prior consultation with unions.

According to PIPSC Vice-President Sean O’Reilly, the mandate undermines previous negotiations and agreements on telework, effectively disregarding the rights and agreements previously established.

“After months of negotiating Letters of Agreement on Telework tailored to the needs of our members, this new mandate nullifies our considerable efforts and erodes the trust we have worked so hard to build,” O’Reilly stated at a press conference.

The unions have filed a policy grievance to challenge what they describe as a bypass of mandatory consultation requirements. Additionally, an Unfair Labour Practice complaint is being prepared to address alleged breaches of good faith and consultation standards by the government.

O’Reilly highlighted the broader implications of the mandate, “We’re not only defending our rights but also the principles of fair and effective workplace management. As the largest employer in the country, this is something we will continue to actively fight for and something all Canadians should expect from their government.”

The decision by the Treasury Board has been particularly impactful for groups still engaged in bargaining, lacking the opportunity to discuss such changes, which are seen as fundamental to basic labour relations principles.

O’Reilly expressed frustration over the practical aspects of the mandate, criticizing the logistics and real impact on workers. “Public service professionals would much rather be working productively, than worrying about rearranging their lives once again to accommodate Treasury’s Board’s latest nonsensical decisions,” he remarked.

PIPSC contends that the enforced additional in-office day each week prioritizes external pressures over the quality of public services and ignores what the union says are evidence-based practices that they have long advocated for. O’Reilly also noted issues like inadequate meeting spaces and the inefficiency of traveling to an office only to conduct virtual meetings.

PIPSC, which represents over 75,000 public sector professionals across Canada, is urging all public sector workers to support their cause in what it describes as a critical battle for rights and effective workplace management. The unions’ actions signal a deepening rift with federal employment authorities over changes to workplace policies.

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