May 30, 2012
PSAC win against CBSA
Government broke the law in attempting to deny union access to workplace
In February 2011, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) filed a complaint with the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) against the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).
In a decision handed down recently, the PSLRB ruled that the Employer's deliberate attempt to keep the negotiator out of the workplace and to prevent him from discussing collective bargaining issues with members was a violation of federal law. It also concluded that union representatives' access to union members in the workplace to discuss union-related matters on non-work time is an activity protected under the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
The PSAC complaint was filed after the employer refused to grant a PSAC negotiator access to CBSA worksites in Ontario and Saskatchewan.
PSAC negotiator Morgan Gay sought access to employees during non-working hours, such as lunch breaks, to discuss bargaining demands and gain a thorough understanding of key operational issues. He had visited CBSA worksites across Canada on some 40 previous occasions, without objection or disruption.
The refusal of access to the PSAC negotiator occurred shortly after preparatory negotiations in 2010 with the employer failed to result in a collective agreement.
The employer took the position that Mr. Gay would be permitted to visit the workplace and meet with employees, provided he did not discuss collective bargaining.
In its decision, the PSLRB concluded that CBSA had violated the law and committed an unfair labour practice by denying union representatives access to the workplace for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining. It also emphasized in its ruling that employee rights under the law - Section 5 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) in particular - are non-negotiable.
The Board also clearly indicated that accessing the worksites for the purpose of discussing bargaining is an activity protected under the PSLRA. Interfering with PSAC's administration and its representation of employees is a violation of the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
The evidence established that CBSA's access denials severely hampered the negotiator's understanding of worksite issues, hence impacting negatively the collective bargaining process.
The Board therefore found that CBSA's interfering with the PSAC representative's access to the worksite for the purposes of discussing collective bargaining with union members on their own time was a violation of the Act and ordered the Employer to cease and desist in this practice.
Date Modified : 2012/05/30