The payment problems of Phoenix affecting 80,000 workers is an “honest administrative error”, the federal government argued as a labor court came to an end on Thursday.
The four-day hearing before the Public Service Labor Relations Board concluded with closing arguments from both sides.
During the court, union representatives and senior officials testified, including the associate deputy minister responsible for the roll out of the government’s new Phoenix payment system. Rosanna Di Paola testified yesterday that the cause of the problems are insufficient training, not the technology itself.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada filed a complaint in June arguing that the Treasury Board of Canada broke the law by not paying public servants accurately or on time after the Phoenix roll out.
“The human suffering that has been exposed in this case is real,” Patricia Harewood, PSAC’s legal officer, said during closing arguments.
We are physically doing everything we can to solve this problem.– Sean Kelly, attorney for the government
“We have heard stories of public service workers in dire straits after months of being paid inaccurately or not at all,” he added. “There is nothing normal or everyday about these stories.”
But the government’s attorney said Labor’s complaint is in “the wrong forum” and should be thrown out.
Sean Kelly, the lawyer representing the Treasury Board of Canada, said the case is “strictly a contract dispute” that should be handled through the grievance process, not through a federal hearing. advice
“We are being asked to compensate unknown individuals,” Kelly said. “We don’t know how many there are. We don’t know their names. We don’t know their circumstances.”
The adjudicator must now rule
The union argues that the government violated the Public Service Labor Relations Act which states that an employer is not allowed to change the terms and conditions of employment while in collective bargaining with the union.
The union wants the works council to issue a written statement ordering the government to:
- Pay public servants accurately and on time.
- Don’t deny workers’ security clearances because of a bad credit rating caused by Phoenix-related financial difficulties.
- Compensating workers for the psychological damage they suffered because they were not paid properly.
A government document submitted to the hearing shows that 27 workers at the Miramichi Pay Center are on sick leave, this is about five percent of all workers.
But Kelly argued that the root of the problem is “premature data entry coupled with slower than expected processing times,” Kelly said.
“We are physically doing everything we can to solve this problem,” Kelly said.
Adjudicator John Jaworski said he hopes to come to a decision on the case as soon as possible.