A labour relations board “erred in law” and “rendered an unreasonable decision” when it ruled the Canadian government failed to bargain in “good faith” with striking diplomats according to a request for a review of the ruling which was sent to the Federal Court of Canada by the government.
The request was made Friday, September 13, the same day Canada’s Public Services Labour Relations Board released a 27-page ruling that the Canadian government “violated its duty to bargain collectively in good faith and make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement”.
The ruling was made as a result of a complaint by the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) which has been in negotiations with the Canadian government, and in particular the Treasury Board, since 2011.
Earlier this year the diplomats started labour disruptions and then strikes that slowed down visa processing around the world.
The government’s request to the Federal Court of Canada called the Labour Board’s ruling “plainly wrong and without foundation”. It asked that the Board’s ruling be set aside, and the matter referred to another panel at the Board “for a new determination” because “The Board erred in law and rendered an unreasonable decision in granting the complaint…”
In an interview, the day of the Labour Board’s ruling, Tim Edwards the president of the striking diplomats’ union hoped that the negotiations could resume, and that the government would, as the union had suggested, agree to binding arbitration.
The union is asking for salary parity with federal public sector workers in Ottawa. It says diplomats make between $3,000 and $14,000 less a year than those employees.
Treasury Board President Tony Clement, the cabinet minister responsible for negotiations with the diplomats, insists the government’s salary offers are “fair and reasonable”.
On learning of the government’s review request the diplomats’ union released a statement from Tim Edwards: “The Government’s actions today bring us no closer to a settlement,” said Edwards. “This appeal unnecessarily prolongs what is already one of the longest strikes in federal public service history, at great cost to the Canadian economy and Canada’s reputation as a destination for tourism, study, and employment – to say nothing of tens of thousands of visa applicants and prospective immigrants whose lives are being put on hold.”
RCI – Background and information on diplomats’ strike – here
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