OTTAWA, July 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Tim Edwards, President of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), issued the following statement on July 18, 2013 in Ottawa:
"In light of the severe and mounting impacts of job action by Canada's Foreign Service on our country's tourism, education, air transport, and agriculture sectors - to say nothing of the effects which delays in visa and immigrant processing are inflicting on applicants and their families around the world - PAFSO has today offered the President of the Treasury Board to take our dispute to binding third-party arbitration.
"PAFSO's offer will expire at noon on Tuesday, July 23. If we do not receive acceptance in writing from the employer by then, we will deem the Government to have rejected the offer.
"The key issue since day one has been equal pay for equal work in comparison to other federal government professionals. This issue has been festering for eight years. We were prevented from resolving these salary gaps in 2009 when the Government circumvented collective bargaining and imposed wages through legislation. Despite PAFSO accepting the employer's two key demands in the current round of bargaining, the Government has refused to acknowledge this salary discrimination. Job action was the only tool left to us under the laws which govern collective bargaining.
"Eliminating wage gaps between Foreign Service officers and comparable professional groups in the federal public service would cost $4.2 million, a tiny fraction of the massive fallout the Government is inflicting on the Canadian economy through their inflexibility. The Government's reluctance to settle this dispute - for what amounts to 1.5% of the estimated fallout on tourism alone - is unreasonable and irresponsible. It is in everyone's best interest that the dispute be resolved as soon as possible.
"PAFSO is not as eager as our employer to keep playing a game of 'chicken' while jeopardizing the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Canadians nationwide. PAFSO has heard the concerns of Canadians and Canadian businesses. This is why we have taken the decision to act responsibly and commit to finding alternate solutions in the face of the Government's stubborn refusal to compromise.
"We are prepared to maintain our strike through the summer and deep into the fall if necessary. We would prefer that the employer accept our offer of binding arbitration so we can get back to doing what we do best: building a more prosperous, secure, and diverse future for Canada. If the Government sincerely believes its offer is 'fair and reasonable', they should have no concerns with presenting that position to an independent third party. We await the Government's response."
SOURCE: Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO)
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