When the change in government took place, the ACFO leadership and negotiating team approached the bargaining table with a sense of cautious optimism. The months since have shown that both caution and optimism were appropriate reactions.

On the optimistic side, we’ve had productive discussions with the employer and reached agreement on several non-monetary items. At the same time, the government delivered on key campaign commitments to restore balance in our relationship and undo damaging legislation passed by the previous government.

On the cautious side, though, the decision to move forward with the Phoenix pay system despite concerns raised by employees has proven ill-fated. While not directly related to bargaining, the major failings with Phoenix have been a major distraction for the employer, resulting in cancelled bargaining dates as all hands dealt with critical pay issues.

Our professional and proactive approach to our relationship with the employer has led to some gains for the FI Community in the interim, including the decision of Treasury Board to honour our request for a postponement of the compensatory leave cashout, but problems with Phoenix linger and this has proven to be a major obstacle at the bargaining table thus far.

With that being said, though, we expect things to get back on track in bargaining this fall, starting with our next round of talks scheduled for September 23 and October 25-27. We anticipate the employer is prepared to open up discussions on some of the more contentious issues which would be a welcome development for the FI Community.

We knew this was going to be a challenging round of negotiations and that was before the pay system became the distraction it turned out to be. Rest assured that the ACFO team shares the frustration expressed by many in the FI Community about the pace of negotiations. Your patience in this regard is greatly appreciated and we hope to have more encouraging news to share in the coming weeks.