CS Group workers get raise in place of retention allowance

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents more than 12,000 computer systems professionals, said Wednesday it had reached the end of remuneration dispute with the federal government that had lasted for more than a year.

In 2005, government IT workers were concerned when The Treasury Board of Canada planned to removed the so-called retention allowance that amounted to three or four per cent of their salaries and had been in place since 1998.

It wasn’t until Wednesday that PIPSC, on behalf of the Computer Systems Group (CSG), finally reached an agreement with the Treasury Board as to how the allowance should be phased out.

It will continue until Dec. 20 of this year and subsequently be replaced by an across-the-board increase of $900 for all affected workers. PIPSC has agreed to waive the retention bonus in favour of a $900 across-the-board annual pay increase and a one-time signing bonus of $300 which will also be extended to the existing 12,000 employees.

Affected workers will additionally receive standard government pay increases retroactive to 2004 (a 2.25 per cent increase effective Dec. 22, 2004, 2.4 per cent increase Dec. 22, 2005 and 2.5 per cent increase effective Dec. 22, 2006).

The agreement is considered tentative until CSG members are able to vote on it, said Luc Carrière, CS Group Chair. The voting process will take four to six weeks and must be ratified by more than 50 per cent of the members, but Carrière said he’s “pretty confident” that the agreement will receive support.

Patrick Robert, press secretary for the Treasury Board, said “we’re very pleased” with the result. “Canadians expect us to work together to provide the public service that they depend on and this is what we’ve done with this deal.”

The agreement may be short-lived, however. “It’s only a three-year deal. It took us a year and a half to agree to this one,” explained Carrière. “We’re going to start again next year.”

At issue will be the approximately 2,000 CSes who will reach retirement age over the next four years, he said. The government will have to find ways to entice more IT professionals to work in the public sector. Carrière argued that the IT sector has rebounded sufficiently that there will be more competition in the job market, requiring new strategies to retain existing government workers and recruit new ones.

Wednesday’s agreement was reached following two days of a conciliation board session and rallies that were held across Canada last Friday. In Ottawa, 3,500 CSG members marched in front of the Treasury Board offices.

Carrière described the latest round of bargaining as “hostile” but said that the CS Group is recommending that its members vote to ratify the tentative agreement.

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