PRC Report (Mar. 2009)


Robyn Benson – PSAC REVP Prairies
Report to Prairie Region Council
March 2009 

First let me apologize for not being at the last PRC meeting and the first ever Activist Conference.  As you know I was unable to attend because of conflicting priorities.  While the PRC meeting and the Activist Conference are indeed very important so to is negotiations.  We were able to secure tentative agreements for our Treasury Board and Agency Units despite the fact that the economic climate took a down turn. 

I had the opportunity to travel across the Region to speak at many ratification votes.  It gave me a chance to talk with members to hear their concerns about the economic climate and of course for many to thank the bargaining team members.

I am most proud of the work done by the SV group and in fact all members of PSAC around the issue of a National Rate of Pay.  The NO ZONES campaign and the MP lobby achieved what we set out to do.  Although we don’t reach the national rate of pay until the end of this collective agreement we need never worry about this again.  I cannot thank enough the members in the Prince Albert area for their dedication to this campaign and in fact their tenacity in getting it off the ground.

I want to thank all of the members of the negotiating teams for their hard work and dedication as well as thank the Prairie Region Council members for taking a leadership role with respect to the negotiations and ratification votes.

Just when we think that we can take a breather after the federal election and the negotiations the Government throws another curve ball at us.  Bill C 10.  This is the most regressive piece of legislation that any Government could put forward.  The three elements that give rise to the most concern are the EI, Wage roll backs and Pay Equity. 

Once again the Prairie Region Council members have shown phenomenal leadership.  On very short notice we were all involved in rally’s, MP lobby and membership mobilization.  Our tactic of “hitting” the Senators at the time of writing this report seems to be working.  The last update I had is that the Senators are indeed asking the hard questions and suggesting that the Government is trying to ram through this bill with little or no regard that only 27 out of the 500 pages actually have anything to do with the “budget”.  We need to continue the fight.

I was very honoured to represent the PSAC as an observer at the Commission on the Status of Women Fifty-Third Session of the United Nations.  I worked with many Union Sisters from around the world who were there to influence changes to the “Agreed Conclusions” on the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care-giving in the context of HIV/AIDS.  I was part of the delegation from the Public Service International and worked not only with other International Unions but NGO’s as well.  We the PSAC held a press conference on Thursday March 5th at the entrance to the UN building after hearing Canada blatantly lie about what they are doing for Women’s Equality.  Information can be found on the PSAC web site.

Communications between Council Members, REVP and the Regional Office appears to be improving.  Having said that there is always room for improvement and at the end of this report I will take a few minutes to discuss our needs.

One last issue that is causing me some concern is the matter of “joint” committee meetings.  I am sure that you are all aware that the PSAC constitution is very clear about the make up of the committees and the roles that each have in the Region.  To be clear joint meetings are not sanctioned by the PSAC and as such we will have a broader discussion to ensure that our activists are able to balance work, family and union life.

In Solidarity,

Robyn Benson