Standing on Guard

Column

The Liberal government has a lot of work to do to bring labour peace to the men and women who work hard every day to keep us safe.

Our Border Services Officers have been without a collective agreement since June 20, 2014 back when the Conservatives were in government! Sadly, things haven’t gotten any better under the Liberals.

They are fast approaching three years without a contract; that is a long time to work without certainty. These Officers keep our borders safe, stopping illegal drugs, people, guns, and harmful agricultural and other products from entering Canada – you’ve probably seen the important work that they do on television. They want to achieve parity with other law enforcement agencies around pay, pension and hours of work (among other matters). They have requested that a Public Interest Commission be set up to help move negotiations along.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police members are looking to have a national voice by establishing a Canada-wide bargaining unit. The Liberals introduced Bill C-7 last year which allows the government to impose its own vision of what the members are allowed to negotiate in a contract. As with all legislation, it went to the Senate for approval. Senators made changes and sent it back to the House of Commons last June.  The Liberals then sat on it for almost ten months before bringing it back for debate.

RCMP officers have a number of serious concerns including staffing levels, aging equipment, and losing officers to municipal and provincial police forces who pay better and offer better benefits. Policing is becoming reactionary rather than preventative. Members want a management structure that focusses on modern labour-management relations with opportunities for supervisors to benefit from training in managing people.

In order to show how concerned they are they have started the Yellow Stripe Campaign where members cover up the yellow stripe on their uniform pants. They are doing so reluctantly, but they are determined to have their voices heard and ensure that the RCMP has a better future.

In Ottawa, the Parliamentary Protective Services Officers protect the staff and politicians who work on the Hill, as well as members of the public who visit. Those who work on the House of Commons side had their collective agreement expire in March of 2017, and so far management has refused to begin negotiations. In protest, the Security Officers started wearing green ball caps, then RESPECT stickers on their uniforms, and now jeans instead of uniform pants.

They want a new collective agreement. They would also like to come back under the control of the House of Commons rather than the RCMP, a change made under Stephen Harper. The Conservative government made the change after a gunman shot a soldier standing guard at the Canadian War Memorial and then stormed the Centre Block of Parliament, where he was killed in a shootout with security staff in October 2014. These officers keep us safe every day and we support them in their labour relations struggles.

Our Border Services Officers, the RCMP and our Parliamentary Protective Services Officers deserve our respect for the work they do to keep us and Canada safe. They also deserve fair collective agreements. Please take the time to thank them and to tell the Liberal government that you support fair settlements NOW for those that are standing on guard for us every day of the year.