Around 20 of federal employees were out on Highway 9 Thursday (Feb. 28) to raise awareness about continuing problems with the Phoenix pay system.
For Stacey Gauthier, local union president for Mountain Institution, the Feb. 28 rally was a way to let the government know the “Phoenix disaster” was still around.
“People are not getting paid and it’s affecting their personal lives,” Gauthier said. “We’re here to support our members and have our members support each other, to let the government know we need to move forward and we can’t wait three to five more years for people to fix this problem.”
The Phoenix pay system, brought online in 2016, has caused a number of problems for public servants, including providing them with too much money, too little and occasionally none at all.
This Thursday marked the third anniversary of the implementation of the pay system.
“I don’t think anyone else would put up with going to work every day not knowing if they’re going to get paid,” Kirsty Havard, regional vice president for the Union of Safety and Justice Employees, said.
“There is some slight hope,” she added, referencing the consultation process for the new pay systems that went out last month. “They’re consulting with the members and the unions this time round. So we’re hopeful the new system will obviously function better than what we have now.”
Although the current government is researching possible systems to replace Phoenix, there’s no immediate fix in sight for federal employees.
Starting in 2017, public servants across Canada have held a day of action on Feb. 28 to remind the public that problems with Phoenix aren’t going away.
For Anthony Friesen, union representative for the PSAC Agriculture Union Local 20038 at the Agassiz Research and Development Centre, the continuing problems caused by Phoenix is hurting people’s morale and their willingness to rally against it.
“The turnout today is not as good as last year, and I think part of that is just a symptom of the longevity of the problem’s we’ve been facing,” he said.
“The apathy and cynicism is really sinking in unfortunately,” he added. “It’s hard to motivate people when they feel there’s no point and it’s not going to result in significant change.”
Friesen did note that a federal election was coming up, and he hoped questions about how the government will pay its employees would be at the front of voters’ minds.
“You would think if somebody is running for office, if they want to form government, a basic qualification would be the ability to run payroll,” he said. “Hopefully, with this being an election year, people are going to give that some thought.”