OTTAWA, ONTARIO– The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) has filed a request for arbitration after declaring an impasse in its collective bargaining negotiations with the federal Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS).
PAFSO, the union representing the 1,600 employees of Canada’s diplomatic service, declared the impasse on February 21, following nine months of contract bargaining efforts with TBS. The union has been without a contract since July 1, 2018.
“I’m very disappointed that we were forced to take this serious step,” said Pamela Isfeld, President of PAFSO. “We’ve been working hard for the past half year to reach an acceptable compromise with Treasury Board on a whole range of issues of essential importance to Canada’s Foreign Service (FS) employees. Unfortunately, TBS was unwilling to work with us to resolve most of our outstanding issues.”
As a good faith bargaining partner, PAFSO was prepared to reach compromises regarding a wide range of TBS proposals. However, TBS showed no willingness to make any reasonable concessions.
“In the end, when it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to reconcile our respective positions, the PAFSO Negotiating Team felt it had no option but to declare an impasse,” said Isfeld.
The Association has filed a request with the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) to resolve the dispute through binding arbitration.
Important proposals that PAFSO intends to raise during arbitration include:
- The fair and reasonable exercise of the Employer’s management rights;
- Proper access to required medications for FS while serving abroad;
- Employer adherence to occupational health and safety (OHS) laws and directives, both in Canada and at diplomatic missions;
- Better harassment protections for FS; and
- Ensuring that the Employer adhere to its own pay timeliness standards in dealing with issues arising from Phoenix.
PAFSO has requested the formation of a three-arbitrator tribunal to address these and other issues.
“We’re very hopeful of the outcome, as we believe our negotiating positions are very reasonable,” said Isfeld.