Last week, ACFO-ACAF President Dany Richard issued a strong statement categorically opposing the three-day in-office mandate announced by Treasury Board on May 1. You can read that complete statement here.

Since then, we have taken on additional measures in response to TBS’s announcement, their lack of plan or evidence to support it, and their disingenuous approach to consultations, which has led to lost faith and trust in having meaningful conversations with bargaining agents (BAs).

PSAC, PIPSC, CAPE, and ACFO joint press conference

This morning at 11:30 am ET, the four largest bargaining agents (BAs) impacted by the newly announced working arrangements representing nearly 275,000 members held a joint press conference in opposition to the employer’s rollout of this mandate.

You can watch a recording of the joint press conference here (opens in new tab).

Our messaging came down to the following:

1. Years of mistreatment of public servants and BAs

In addition to forcing employees back to the office without a purposeful presence and without consultation despite formal agreements in place, the federal government has:

  • Failed to pay them properly for years due to Phoenix;
  • Provided inadequate health insurance and timely reimbursements for costly medical expenses via Canada Life;
  • Forced them back into crumbling office buildings with unsafe drinking water, pests, and countless other health and safety concerns; and
  • Doubled down on its 50% footprint reduction plan without any indication of how to accommodate the already overcrowded workspaces.

They have shown their complete inability to provide even the bare minimum for the hundreds of thousands of hard-working individuals who provide daily public services to Canadians. These conditions make it extremely difficult to attract the best and brightest to the federal public service and provide the best value for money for taxpayers.

Finally, the failure to consult meaningfully with bargaining agents on this amended mandate continues the pattern of a lack of consultation, such as with the first RTO mandate in 2022 and the vaccination policy in 2021 (more on this in Dany’s previous statement).

This mandate is the final straw in a years-long pattern of disrespect towards public servants and bargaining agents alike.

2. The waste of taxpayer dollars and impact on all Canadians

Without any evidence from the employer to back up the mandate’s effect on productivity or collaboration, the true evidence from both members and the employer shows this plan is a gross misuse and waste of taxpayer dollars.

We’ve heard endless accounts from the CT Community about reporting to the office only to:

  • sit at an unassigned workstation without their colleagues;
  • lose productivity due to lack of proper equipment and/or accommodations needed;
  • suffer through poor working conditions; and
  • sit on Teams calls all day.

This is particularly egregious for employees working in the regions and reporting to the NCR who work in a completely different province than their colleagues, giving no purpose to their in-office presence whatsoever.

We completely understand and respect the value that in-office presence has, but only when it’s purposeful. The government’s own evidence shows that 90% of departments opted for two-day in-office days instead of three when given the choice, so it’s clear that no value was found in the additional day in-office.

Following a scandal like ArriveCAN and the importance of investing in public servants, and as the union representing stewards of the public purse, we cannot sit back without sounding the alarm on how the now-majority of thousands of public servants’ time is being mishandled and your tax dollars wasted.

3. Action to oppose the mandate

We also shared the actions we have taken thus far:

  • A letter was sent yesterday to Treasury Board President Anita Anand copying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as a letter to Jagmeet Singh underscoring the faith and trust lost between unions and the employer;
  • All four unions in conjunction with other National Joint Council (NJC) bargaining agents who are impacted have filed policy grievances related to the breach of the respective Letters of Agreement (LoAs) on telework;
  • We have also filed an unfair labour practice complaint due to the employer’s failure to meaningfully consult with bargaining agents;
  • Thousands of letters have been sent by public servants to Anand, Trudeau, and members’ respective MPs demanding that the mandate be reversed; and
  • More action will come from bargaining agents in the coming weeks and months from bargaining agents and public servants to demonstrate their opposition to the mandate.

Next steps and how you can take action

In order to send a clear message to the employer that the lack of respect shown by the employer will not be tolerated, the CT Community must take action.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Send a letter to Minister Anand, PM Trudeau and your MP urging them to reverse this mandate. You can do so at the click of a button with our pre-drafted letter via Action Network (opens in new tab);
  • Complete our template for filing a grievance related to the breach of your telework agreement (more to come on this); and
  • Keep an eye out for future activities organized by ACFO in conjunction with other bargaining agents as we collect our research on the feasibility and legality of potential demonstrations.

Let’s stand united against the erosion of trust and respect from the employer in the public service. Join us in taking action to reverse this mandate, protect our rights, and ensure the dignity of every public servant, as together, we can make our voices heard and demand both the meaningful consultation and fair treatment we deserve.