Members of the local Union of Solicitor General Employees (USGE) at Saskatchewan Penitentiary say members are affected by problems plaguing a new federal pay system.
Shannon Blum, the local president of USGE at the penitentiary, said some staff haven’t been paid in months.
To drive home their message, staff stood in front of the penitentiary Thursday to speak to locals about the issue.
“It’s really important for people to recognize that we’re not just doing this to complain, we’re doing it because our members are hurting,” Blum said. “I have members who haven’t been paid for three months, or can’t apply for disability because they can’t get a record of employment.”
Public employees across Canada have reported similar issues since the new Phoenix payroll system was rolled out earlier this year.
Jeff Campbell is a regional communications manager with Correctional Service Canada. When called for comment, he issued a statement respecting the rights of union members to raise awareness of their causes.
“CSC respects the rights of all bargaining agents to represent the interest of their members through legitimate union activities, which are not contrary to collective agreements or legislation,” he said of USGE’s information action.
Campbell spoke about the impact of the action on the functioning of the penitentiary.
“There were some delays of people getting into work this morning,” he said. “But everything was peaceful and respectful.”
In a release, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) said more than 80,000 public employees across the country have had problems being paid and accessing employment records through the new system. Local union representatives say more than 60 members living in P.A. have also been impacted by the payroll issues.
Public Services and Procurement Canada is the department responsible for the implementation of the new Phoenix payroll system. Campbell said CSC employees have been encouraged to reach out to their managers to find temporary solutions to their payment issues. Blum said union members facing hardship have also been directed to reach out to PSAC vice-president, Chris Alyward, for personal support while issues with payment are resolved.
When asked for her reaction to the public response to the union’s information action, Blum said she was pleased.
“It was extremely positive,” Blum said. “We had support from membership, we had support from other unions and we even had support from our local managers.”
For now, the union has no other actions planned. But, Blum said, they will continue to raise awareness locally of the problems faced by their members until the issue is resolved.