The union that represents professional public sector employees announced that it will deviate from its long-held policy of neutrality to oppose Harper in the upcoming federal elections.
In a special statement released last week, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) board of directors declared that Harper's policies have created "an exceptional circumstance that requires an exceptional response."
PIPSC represents most of the federal government's scientists as well as other professionals, who have been deeply affected by research cutbacks made by the Conservative government.
Statistics Canada reports that in the past 5 years, a total of $596 million has been cut from science and technology budgets at federal organizations, and over 2,000 jobs have been eliminated. Though cuts have occurred in research departments across the board, Environment Canada, the National Research Council, Fisheries and Oceans have all suffered severely.
The Treasury Board of Canada has started negotiations with all 27 bargaining units in the core public administration. Of the 7 bargaining units represented by PIPSC, all but one of the contracts has already expired.
As PIPSC begins contract negotiations with the federal government for most of its 55,000 members, the union has declared that it cannot maintain its neutrality when faced with the Conservative's blatant anti-unionism exhibited through bills such as C-377, C-525, and C-4.
Delegates from across Canada attending the Institute's 95th Annual General Meeting in Ottawa agreed to "take all necessary action to ensure that Canadians are aware of what is at stake in federal public service collective bargaining and in the upcoming federal election in 2015," "energetically defend and promote federal public services and expose the damage this Conservative government has done to these in the run-up to and during the next federal election campaign," and "undertake all necessary planning, training and preparation to ensure that our membership is ready for job action."
"This government has forced non-partisan organizations such as ours to make a very difficult choice: to remain silent or to speak out," said PIPSC President Debi Daviau in a press release. "We have chosen to speak out."
Ella Bedard is rabble.ca's labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People. She now lives in Toronto where she enjoys chasing the labour beat, biking and birding.
Photo: flickr/Sean Connors
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