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|Professional Association Of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) - Strike Action by thebaft: 6:17pm On Jun 17, 2013|
Notice – Strike Action
June 11, 2013 — The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) union is currently taking strike action. PAFSO union members responsible for processing visa applications have been walking out of offices in Canada and overseas.
Posted processing times for both temporary and permanent resident visa applications do not take into account work stoppages.
Anyone applying for a visa should anticipate delays and submit their application as far in advance as possible.
Contingency plans are already in place to ensure all offices remain open and are providing at least a minimum level of service. Priority will be placed on urgent humanitarian applications.
CIC continues to closely monitor the situation.
|Re: Professional Association Of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) - Strike Action by thebaft: 6:18pm On Jun 17, 2013|
This will definitely add more days to ALL visa application processing times. As if the processing times were not long enough already ...
|Re: Professional Association Of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) - Strike Action by thebaft: 9:17am On Jul 27, 2013|
Striking diplomats vow major visa shutdown
Foreign service officers will launch walkout Monday at 15 centres as arbitration bid fails
Striking foreign service officers are withdrawing all services at Canada's 15 biggest visa processing centres abroad starting Monday, following a failed attempt to go to arbitration to settle the bitter contract dispute with the government.
The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, the union representing the officers, said Friday that Treasury Board President Tony Clement had rejected its offer of binding arbitration because the union wouldn't accept the conditions Clement attached to the offer.
The union began staging rotating job actions in the spring at different embassies and visa processing centres at different times, which has slowed down work abroad but not completely stopped it. Now the union is stepping up its pressure on the government.
"Effective Monday, in order to persuade the government that binding arbitration remains the responsible way forward to resolve our dispute, PAFSO members will withdraw all services until further notice at Canada's fifteen largest visa processing centres abroad," PAFSO said in a statement.
The centres are:
"We take no pleasure whatsoever in these strike actions and their real, severe, and mounting effects on the Canadian economy. But it should now be evident to all Canadians that from this point forward the government of Canada bears sole and complete responsibility for these impacts," the union said.
The tourism sectors and education institutions and organizations have been vocal with their concerns about the foreign service strike because of its impact already on the processing of visas. PAFSO encouraged them and others Friday to urge the government to "bargain freely and flexibly."
After the last round of negotiation broke down with no resolution and weeks went by with no talks scheduled, the union proposed to the government that they go to binding arbitration. The government then responded that it would agree, only if the union accepted certain conditions. It wanted the conditions kept confidential.
But in its statement Friday PAFSO shared some of the conditions and said two of them were "so paralyzing that their acceptance would have predetermined the outcome of arbitration in the government's favour and negated the purpose and integrity of the process."
Union accepted some conditions
The government wanted to exclude any mention of other bureaucrats who perform similar work, according to the union, "which has been at the heart of our position since day one."
"Equal pay for equal work," has been the union's slogan throughout the strike and it's the main sticking point in the dispute.
Ending their work action during the arbitration process was another condition the government wanted to impose and is one the union accepted. It also accepted two other conditions, but without accepting all six, the government said no to arbitration.
The union is accusing Clement of "cherry-picking criteria" that would have favoured the government's position and of "negotiating in bad faith."
Clement rejects those accusations. In his own statement released Friday he said the government has put a fair contract offer on the table and it's "disappointed that PAFSO was so quick to reject our willingness to enter into a binding arbitration process that the union itself requested."
He said the Canadian public is concerned about PAFSO's willingness to disrupt international business and tourism during the busy summer season.
"However, we want to reassure Canadians and our international friends that, despite PAFSO's actions, Canada remains open for business, and that we continue to welcome visitors and international students to experience Canada," Clement said.
On Twitter Clement said he couldn't comment on future options but that new Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander "will be able to deal with the resources needed."
|Re: Professional Association Of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) - Strike Action by thebaft: 11:42am On Sep 27, 2013|
26 September 2013 - Canada’s Foreign Service Officers Reach Tentative Agreement with Federal Government
The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers is pleased to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached with the Treasury Board of Canada to end our six-month labour dispute.
“PAFSO is satisfied with this deal,” said PAFSO President Tim Edwards.“This agreement was reached through compromises on both sides,” continued Edwards. “We salute the spirit of constructive engagement which our employer brought to our latest discussions. This deal is a victory for free and fair bargaining in the federal public service.”
With the signing of this tentative agreement PAFSO has ordered an immediate suspension of all strike measures and work to rule. The agreement requires ratification by the PAFSO membership and approval by the full Treasury Board. PAFSO’s Executive Committee and Treasury Board president Tony Clement have agreed to recommend acceptance of the offer.
“We are pleased that the Government has recognized the tremendous value and dedication which Foreign Service Officers provide to Canadians and their elected representatives,” said Edwards. “It has been a hard-fought battle and I would like to salute the unity, resolve, and stamina of our members in securing a fair and equitable deal. We’re excited to get back to doing the work we love, promoting and protecting Canada’s values and interests abroad.”
The 1,350 Foreign Service Officers have been without a contract since July 1, 2011 and in a legal strike position since April 2, 2013. This agreement concludes the longest federal public service strike since the introduction of collective bargaining in 1967.
|Re: Professional Association Of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO) - Strike Action by thebaft: 7:42am On Sep 29, 2013|
After striking a deal to move to a higher wage scale and end a six-month rotating strike, Canada’s foreign service officers are now pledging to turn toward clearing a backlog of visa applications abroad created by the job action.
The contract deal, announced Thursday, came after Treasury Board president Tony Clement had initially pledged to stick to a standard, or “patterned” offer – only to return to the table, after the Public Service Labour Relations Board found that he negotiated in bad faith. Both sides then made concessions to reach a deal.
“I don’t think either side caved. I think that the minister and his negotiating staff decided it was time to seek a compromised solution, and compromises were made on both sides,” Tim Edwards, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, said in an interview Friday. “I don’t have any insight into Minister Clement’s thinking, but they did establish a trend there. They demonstrated they were – in a very small number of cases – willing to go beyond [standard] patterned settlements, and it seems the same logic applies to us.”
The union got the higher wage scale it was seeking, but gave up severance pay for those who leave voluntarily – a key government demand. Mr. Edwards expects members will approve the deal, which is backdated to 2011 and expires in June of next year. That means the foreign service will receive retroactive lump-sum raise payments and Mr. Edwards and Mr. Clement will soon be back at the table.
It’s the fourth deal signed since summer by Mr. Clement, but also the latest case where the government’s “patterned settlements” were sweetened to drive a deal through. Mr. Clement declined an interview, but his office said the negotiating tactics “reflect the government’s commitment to reaching fiscally responsible settlements that are fair to Canadian taxpayers and to employees.”
The deals come as Mr. Clement undertakes a public battle to overhaul the public-service workplace, which has not sat well with the unions. “I think they’ve really tried to make unions look like villains,” said Kevin Grabowsky, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which reached a deal last month.
“This last round is probably one of the strangest, in that they came to the table with, ‘That’s it, that’s all, go away, we don’t need to listen to you about anything else,’” Mr. Grabowsky added. The union then began minor job action, including buying a billboard in Mr. Clement’s home riding. “We’d been slowly getting their attention, and I don’t know what the magic thing was, but they called us to get us back to the table,” he said.
The Conservative government has shown “absolutely no respect” to the public service since the 2011 election, said Chris Aylward, executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. One of its groups reached a new deal this summer. “I think their approach has been pretty consistent for the last little while – and that is to delay and circumvent the bargaining process,” Mr. Aylward said, urging Mr. Clement to “start respecting the public sector workers, and treat them with dignity and respect.”
Mr. Clement has allies in his push for public service austerity. Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said Mr. Clement showed resolve in holding out during lengthy disputes, and pushing to roll back certain perks. “Clement demonstrated that he wasn’t afraid to weather a strike, and a long strike, and the union didn’t get everything they wanted,” Mr. Thomas said. The public service strike has left a backlog of work. New permanent residency applications are taking 70 days to process, twice as long as when the strike began in April. Mr. Edwards suspects some students and visitors were put off by visa delays caused by the strike, and avoided Canada altogether. “There is a significant backlog to clear, and that will take months,” he said. “But our members will contribute heavily to that effort, and we’re looking forward to getting back to work.”
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