Canada’s Foreign Service Officers announce additional pickets in Ottawa and escalated service withdrawals

20 June 2013

As part of ongoing job action to bring Treasury Board back to the negotiating table to address wage inequities, Canada’s Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) announced ‘information pickets’ to be held Thursday, June 20th in downtown Ottawa and further withdrawals of service in key international locations.

“The escalated scope and intensity of service withdrawals this month are a direct consequence of the federal government’s refusal to engage meaningfully with its employees on the issue of pay equity,” said Tim Edwards, PAFSO President. “While we’re eager to get back to work, these disruptions will continue until the Treasury Board offers a fair deal to our members.”

PAFSO officials estimate that job action by immigration officers has resulted in major delays to application processing and a significant drop in the number of visas being issued. These impacts will be felt directly by Canada’s tourism industry, educational institutions, and businesses relying on temporary foreign workers. The Department of Citizenship & Immigration’s decision to shift non-striking resources toward visa processing will also result in significant processing delays to applications for permanent residency. In addition, a number of ministerial and parliamentary visits abroad have been shortened or cancelled in recent weeks and negotiations with key trading partners delayed as a result of these rotating strikes. Foreign Service Officers play a central role in organizing and executing high-level visits and negotiating trade agreements on Canada’s behalf.

As of today, all eligible members are striking in the following locations: Manila, Beijing, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Astana. Immigration officers are striking in Delhi, Chandigarh, London, Moscow and Mexico City. In Tokyo, economic officers are also on strike. Additional withdrawals of service are impacting dozens of divisions at CIC and DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa.

“Resolving this situation would cost less than 2.5% of the total Foreign Service payroll – a tiny fraction of the economic impact that the Government’s inflexibility is creating,” said Tim Edwards, PAFSO president. “We will keep up pressure until the Government recognizes the tremendous value and dedication Foreign Service officers bring to Canadians and to our elected representatives.”

The main issue at hand remains PAFSO’s request for equal pay for equal work. Specifically, the union is seeking wage adjustments to keep Foreign Service officer pay in line with comparable employment groups in the federal government, including lawyers, economists, policy analysts, and commerce officers.

PAFSO members in the National Capital Region will be holding an information picket Thursday, June 20th 2013, from 11:00 to 13:30 in front of Treasury Board Secretariat offices at 140 O’Connor St.


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