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Today, February 18, has been designated the global day of action for the right to strike by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). And while ACFO and the FI Community have enjoyed a 25-year history of relatively congenial and professional negotiations, recent developments have underscored just how important our right to strike really is.
As our colleagues at Public Services International state, “all too often, the right to strike is denied to public sector workers, due to broad definitions of essential services and limitations to collective bargaining or the right to organize.”
Indeed, in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada has had to weigh in on such developments in Saskatchewan – a ruling ACFO raised this week during our own negotiations given the federal government’s recent unconstitutional changes to essential worker frameworks. That we can draw on the research and resources of our international partners as part of this global day of action will only strengthen our position and our resolve on this critical point.
It should be noted, though, that while we will staunchly defend our constitutional right to strike, we remain committed to bargaining in good faith with the goal of reaching a fair deal for the FI Community without having to strike or engage in any other sort of job action.
As in previous rounds, we believe the facts speak for themselves. Unlike in previous rounds, ACFO and the FI Community don’t have the right to choose our destiny in this regard; the government legislated away our right to choose a dispute resolution mechanism and, in so doing, took arbitration off the table. Should we be forced to engage in job action to reach a fair deal it will be because the employer quite literally gave us no other choice.
One of the hallmarks of the FI Community is our ability to work well with colleagues in other groups and at other levels. We are well aware that job action, by its definition, will put this group in a position of tension. The ACFO job action working group will draw on the resources and experiences of our domestic and international partners to make sure we have as many options as possible but even actions like work-to-rule or the refusal of overtime would go against the nature of this group.
But we also know that the FI Community is proud and united in its resolve. The employer would be unwise to mistake our professionalism for weakness. If and when the time for job action comes we know the FI Community will show that it is not to be taken lightly. A work stoppage isn’t our only option but, as unions around the world are reminding us all today, it is indeed one option.
And ACFO won’t be afraid to take it if we have to.
Milt Isaacs, CPA, CMA, CPFA
President, Association of Canadian Financial Officers