On July 20, 2010, the Honourable Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance, spoke to a group of Broader Public Sector employer and union leaders, to reiterate the need for broader public sector compensation restraint and the government’s intention to work with its partners to achieve collective bargaining outcomes consistent with the government's Policy Statement of no net increases to compensation for two years.
The Minister of Finance announced that the government will pursue detailed consultations with BPS bargaining agents and employers about reaching collective agreements that comply with the Policy Statement. The talks are to involve a respectful dialogue in which the government welcomes the parties’ views, opinions and proposals on how they can come together to reach agreements acceptable to everyone, including the taxpayers, given the current fiscal realities.
Government officials are now proceeding with these consultations. Those officials are facilitating discussions between employers and bargaining agents and participating as a party. The consultations were tentatively scheduled in three phases of two weeks' duration each, as set out below. Due to the number of partners that the government is consulting and the time needed for detailed discussions, and scheduling challenges, each phase has carried over into the following week.
Phase 1 – August 9th to 22nd
Phase 2 – August 30th to September 12th
Phase 3 – September 20th to October 3rd
Invitations for the phases were sent to all the bargaining agents listed above, and key employers associations or individual employers that have collective bargaining relationships with those unions. The unions with the largest representation in the relevant sectors and the key employers were invited to participate in the consultations.
The goal of consultations is to reach framework understandings or agreements. To support this goal, the government will provide details of the current fiscal situation and canvass the views and proposals of the collective bargaining parties. There will be a full exploration of means of achieving the outcomes set out in the Policy Statement. While government representatives will act as facilitators, individual employers and unions would have to agree with and ratify any collective bargaining outcomes.
While these consultations are ongoing, the Minister of Finance has requested that the collective bargaining parties agree to pause their contract negotiations and put interest arbitrations on hold to allow this consultation to proceed.