IN THE MEDIA: NDP says Prime Minister Trudeau must deal with PS pay debacle

By Kathryn May, Published in the Ottawa Citizen

The NDP is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take steps to ensure public servants who are  short-changed by the ongoing Phoenix imbroglio are paid properly for the work they do.

Three MPs sent Trudeau a letter Monday, urging him to “take immediate action” to fix pay problems that have escalated since the rollout of a new automated system known as Phoenix. They want the government to spell out the measures it is taking and the expected timeline to fix the problems.

The letter was signed by the NDP’s Public Services and Procurement critic, Erin Weir; labour critic Sheri Benson and National Parks critic Wayne Stetski.

“If a large corporation were experiencing similar payment problems, you can be sure Canadians would demand their prime minister step in and force that corporation to honour its commitments and pay its workers,” the letter said.

The MPs say the government didn’t heed the early warnings signals when problems with Phoenix first appeared, leaving some public servants across the country underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all.

Phoenix was rolled out in two phases in February and April and the government is still scrambling to fix problems that appear to disproportionately hit new hires, students and casual employees. Those who work irregular hours, receive extra duty pay or are leaving or returning from leave have also faced problems.

“As this unacceptable situation persists, federal employees are faced with the very real problem of mounting bills and mortgage payments that cannot be missed,” said the letter.

The MPs argued Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote’s push to fix problems by adding more employees with a new temporary satellite pay centre doesn’t address the scope and breadth of the pay complications affecting employees.

The NDP is the latest to weigh in on the Phoenix debacle. Last week, 13 federal unions went to Federal Court, seeking an order to force the government to pay employees in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment and the Financial Administration Act.

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