This is my activities report for the past three years that I am presenting in solidarity to the 2020 Triennial Convention. This report covers the period from September 2017 to October 2018 as Regional Vice-President (RVP) for Quebec, and from October 2018 to date as National Executive Vice-President (NEVP).
Regional Vice-President, Quebec
I am pleased to present my report as Regional Vice-President for the Quebec Region for the period from September 2017 to October 2018. We have a fantastic team in Quebec, and I am very proud and pleased with the dedication of the Quebec Locals’ Executives.
I coordinated visits with the Quebec locals including points of services. I had the opportunity to meet with members from the Locals, to share with them the current issues at the national level and to discuss how members could support their union in our struggles for respect and improvement of our working conditions.
It should be noted that duty to accommodate is a major issue both physically and psychologically. The employer must be continually reminded of its obligations and is being warned that there is zero tolerance for the non-respect of our members’ rights and that we will take all necessary measures to ensure that our members are treated with dignity and respect.
During this time, I had the opportunity to work on several grievance hearings at the second level of the grievance procedure and some at third level (for Francophones). I also dealt with grievances from Ste. Anne’s Hospital. I have participated in second level grievance hearings related to duty to accommodate and violence in the workplace throughout my region. The employer seems to be advocating for a workplace free of all forms of discrimination and harassment. With that said, we must fight for the rights of our members. This hypocrisy does not make sense.
I attended the UVAE Triennial Convention held in Halifax at the end of September 2017. The Convention was very rewarding and beneficial on various issues. As the RVP for Quebec, I am very pleased with the recommendation to have a bilingual union officer at the UVAE National Office. A unilingual national office is very problematic because it does not represent the entire membership. In the Quebec Region, we must work twice as hard as other regions that do not have to translate correspondence with the UVAE National Office. I will always stand up for equality and fairness. Canada has two official languages and I think it is important that our leaders demonstrate an effort to learn both official languages.
On October 12 and 13, 2017, I attended the FTQ Occupational Health and Safety Symposium at the Delta in Trois-Rivières. More than 200 participants were in attendance. I shared the information obtained with the executives of my Quebec locals.
Another major issue is the Phoenix fiasco. Although complaints about Phoenix are handled at the national level, I still must translate requests from French to English and forward them which is very time consuming. I understand that I have the right to forward everything in the original official language, but I translate for the benefit of all members. It is in the best interest of the members I represent to provide an English summary so that the national level understands the issues. I have a region that is mobilized and involved at many levels, but they are disillusioned with the Phoenix fiasco.
I provided advice and guidance to local representatives and offered assistance on all matters related to their needs (interpretation of the collective agreement, duty to accommodate, union dues, grievances, etc.). Members of the Quebec Region know that I am available to address their concerns at any time. We have very good communication based on respect and transparency in the Quebec Region.
I attended the PSAC Triennial Convention held in Toronto from April 29 to May 4, 2018.
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT
I served as interim National Executive Vice-President (NEVP) from October 9, 2018, to January 15, 2019. I have officially been the National Executive Vice-President since January 15, 2019 and moved to Ottawa on February 3, 2019. This has been a big change in my life and quite an adjustment as a partner. This decision was made as a couple and the fact that I am in Ottawa means that I have the support of my partner and that of my family.
I am very proud to represent our members across the country in both official languages and to work closely with the National President, our RVPs and the EOC.
The problems our members are experiencing with the Phoenix Compensation System are completely unfortunate and inhumane. Our members deserve RESPECT and the PHENIX FIASCO is a SHAME for a country like Canada. I have had several grievance hearings with the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) regarding Phoenix cases. With the members’ approval, I submitted the synopsis for each Phoenix case to the Pay Processing Centre for immediate action even before the grievance hearing.
I receive updates on Phoenix cases at Veterans Affairs Canada at least once a month via teleconference with the Charlottetown compensation team.
I also deal with this team as well as with the PSAC on issues concerning Phoenix errors via union dues deduction. I have had several exchanges with the PSAC membership team as well as the VAC compensation team to resolve these situations. Phoenix is a major fiasco and it is in no way the union’s fault. On the contrary, from the beginning, Unions sounded the alarm and the employer called us alarmists. Today, we see who had reason to be alarmed. I work on a regular basis with the VAC compensation team and with the PSAC team responsible for complex cases and with members directly to get obtain information I need to act on their behalf.
It is essential to obtain this information, not only to prepare for the grievance hearing, but also to send a request for urgent action to the VAC Compensation Centre and/or the PSAC.
Since becoming NEVP, I have been very busy working with the RVPs in each of their regions providing advice and guidance.
I have attended a few Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in person as well as via teleconference to provide an update on Phoenix, on ongoing grievances at the national level, as well as on bargaining and to answer questions from the membership.
I have been involved in the union for over 15 years. I started out as a Local President and later became involved with both UVAE and PSAC at various levels. What I am passionate about is contact with members, listening to them, reassuring them and especially defending them in these times of injustice and inequity in the workplace. This is why I am a union activist. Union values of social justice, equality and the fight to improve our working conditions are deeply rooted in me. I am deeply concerned about both the physical and the psychological well-being of our members. A workplace free of all forms of discrimination and harassment is an obligation for me, not wishful thinking.
I am responsible for the National Contact Centre Network (NCCN) portfolio. I have had labour-management meetings with the employer to raise issues of concern for our members. Minutes of these meetings are available.
As Chair of the UVAE Finance Committee, I would like to warmly thank Lisa Nelson and Zarina Khan for their full cooperation and hard work.
I would also like to thank our Finance Officer at UVAE for her valuable assistance in the development and preparation of our new 2021-2023 budget. Our team met in person a few times. We have been busy preparing a new budget format that will be self-explanatory. As a member of the Finance Committee it is a great responsibility and working as a team helps us to succeed.
As UVAE NEVP, I am the co-chair of the Joint Working Group on Harassment and Violence Prevention in the Workplace. This group is a sub-committee of the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee.
The objective of the Harassment and Workplace Violence Prevention Working Group is to carry out the consultative development of all the requirements of Bill C-65, including the development of harassment and workplace violence prevention policy and incident resolution process within VAC that is consistent with the final legislation regulations.
In addition, the Working Group shall:
participate in consultations regarding the harassment and workplace violence requirements of Bill C-65, including the development of the prevention policy and the resolution process;
participate in the planning and implementation of workplace changes resulting from of Bill C-65 requirements;
provide advice, guidance and recommendations to senior management through the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has been put on hold for the time being.
It should be noted that my report was submitted on March 20th, 2020, which was the deadline for doing so. I will be pleased to provide a verbal update for the remainder of my term at the 2020 Convention.
I hope I have not omitted important information; it is difficult to document everything in a few pages. I remain at your disposal to answer any questions you may have at Convention and will be pleased to do so.
I end my report with a quote that means a great deal to me: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you choose to take the side of the oppressor.” Desmond Tutu
National Executive Vice-President (NEVP)