ACFO and Treasury Board negotiating teams met in Ottawa for another round of negotiations last week.

ACFO’s team opened the discussions by requesting the employer’s position on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to strike down Saskatchewan’s essential services legislation. ACFO advised that our own position is that the federal labour relations legislation violates the freedom of association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The employer advised that it is in the process of reviewing the ruling.

Following this discussion, the teams reviewed data provided by the employer in response to ACFO’s request during an earlier round. Much of this data was demographic in nature though it’s worth noting that it confirms that the FI Community, on the balance, uses less sick leave than other groups.

It also emerged that the employer doesn’t collect information on education levels in the FI Community, something that we found to be disappointing given the professional nature of the group and the work we do. We will be adding this issue to our list of demands, calling on the government to collect this information and share it with the group on an ongoing basis as it is required for adequate succession planning.

The remainder of the session was focused on reviewing ACFO’s demands in greater detail. In particular, significant discussion took place on the issues of professional development; family-related and vacation leave; and work-life balance considerations related to expectations for off-hour availability via employer-issued mobile devices.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for early May. In the meantime, the ACFO job action and research working groups will meet in March to begin their work in earnest.

At this point, things have progressed slowly as we expected them to. We remain committed to bargaining in good faith and continue to hope to be able to reach a negotiated settlement that is fair for the FI Community.