House of Commons employees denounce their working conditions

    OTTAWA, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Earlier today, House of Commons employees
went to the office of the House Leader, Peter Miliken, to submit a petition
signed by some 300 House employees after he had refused to meet with them and
hear their concerns about their deplorable working conditions.
    These members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are
currently in negotiations to renew their collective agreements. Four groups
are affected - scanner operators, the Operational Group (kitchen, maintenance,
etc.), members of the Reporting and Text Processing Group and the Postal
Group. In total, they account for more than 400 employees represented by PSAC.
    "Each one of us has to contend with constant frustration over our
scheduling," explained Serge Séguin, a scanner operator and the President of
the PSAC Local. "There is no clear process as to how working hours are
assigned. We never know when and at what time we will be working and why
so-and-so got some hours and not someone else. Our colleagues in the kitchens
and in reporting have no income security and can be sent home without notice."
    The union is insisting that clear and transparent rules on how schedules
are assigned be applied so that everyone can be treated fairly. It is also
asking that years of service be recognized when assigning schedules. This is
not the first time the union has tried to bring about these changes, which
received the support of the Labour Relations Board during the last round of
negotiations. However, the management of the House of Commons has always
turned a deaf ear to its employees concerns.
    "They've been telling us for years that imposing precarious working
conditions on workers is the only possible way to run a parliamentary
institution," explained Bob Beauchamp, the Regional Vice-President of the PSAC
National Component and a driver on the Hill for over 30 years. "We have shown
time and time again, though, that numerous public services across Canada have
adopted operational procedures that are respectful of workers, without
jeopardizing the operation of the institution itself. It is time that our
politicians who administer the House of Commons force management to provide us
with decent working conditions."
    Under the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, PSAC members
at the House of Commons do not have the right to strike. However, they can go
to arbitration. These workers are responsible for scanner operations,
operational services (maintenance, printing, transportation, messaging, trades
and restaurants); reporting the House of Commons and the distribution of mail.
The first three groups have asked for arbitration, while talks for the Postal
Group recently broke down.

For further information:

For further information: Pierre Lebel, PSAC, (819) 777-4647, (613)

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