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IBEW Responds to Treasury Board Demands

Sep 26, 2014

The IBEW and Treasury Board negotiating teams met face-to-face on September 23, 24 and 25.  This is our first opportunity to address the Treasury Board’s sick-leave proposal and we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to send a strong message across the table.  So we did so in two ways. First, contrary to the Treasury Board‘s proposal to reduce vacation carry-over from 35 days to 25 days, we proposed to eliminate the cap and allow unlimited carryover of vacation.  If the employer expects you to use vacation leave to supplement sick leave, then you should be allowed to carry over as much as you want.  They can’t have it both ways.

More significantly, the employer tabled their anxiously-awaited language on sick leave and short-term disability insurance (STDI) . In short, your employer wants to wipe out your existing sick leave balances and reduce your access to sick leave to 5 days per year.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, they want to implement a STDI plan without any input from you – now or ever.  Yet this is the consequence of a STDI plan outside the collective agreement.

Fortunately sick leave and STDI are both appropriate subjects for collective bargaining. So we tabled our own proposals on sick leave and STDI which are far superior to your current benefits.  Our proposal has the following key features:

  • 65 working days of paid sick leave at 100% salary in a 12-month period;
  • STDI coverage for another 65 days at 70% salary in a 12-month period;
  • The ability to use your accrued sick leave credits to top up income during the 70% period;
  • The ability for employees to share sick leave with one another;
  • Collective agreement language to protect employees from unreasonable and unnecessary requests for “sick notes”; and
  • Joint appeal process to manage STDI claim denials.

We think all these elements (and more) should be included in Article 19 of your collective agreement.  This ensures your right to file a grievance and have the Public Service Labour Relations Board hear your case.

Your team fully understands that any change to the agreement (particularly with respect to sick leave) can create a lot of anxiety.  However, very similar terms exist in the NAV CANADA agreement with the IBEW and have since 1998.  These terms have served our members very well.

We also know that some members would prefer the status quo.  Unfortunately ignoring the Treasury Board’s demand won’t make it go away so we decided to be proactive and tackle the problem head-on.  It’s worth noting that our proposal will help the 51% of members that currently have less than 13 weeks of sick leave in the bank.  The current system, although well known, is far from perfect.  And those that do have more than 13 weeks would still be able to access it under our proposal.

No further meetings are scheduled at this time though the TBS and IBEW are considering dates in December and January.  More information will follow as it becomes available.

I encourage any member with questions to contact me directly.

In solidarity,

Daniel J Boulet
Business Manager / Financial Secretary