Public service unions will fight the three-day term in office. What to know – National

Unions representing public servants say they are surprised and outraged by new rules requiring federal employees to work from the office at least three days a week.

The new requirements, which go into effect on September 9, also stipulate that executives must be in the office at least four days a week.

The Public Services Alliance of Canada says it will file an unfair labor practices complaint and pursue other legal options.

“PSAC members are incredibly frustrated and angry at this announcement,” national president Chris Aylward said in a statement.

Previously, most federal public servants were required to be in the office at least two days a week. Those rules were implemented in March 2023, two years after public servants began working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Nathan Prier, president of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, called the announcement a “disaster” and said the union would fight it.

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“We are shocked by this decision that was made in secret, without consultation and without giving any valid reason,” he said in a statement. “We are not going to accept this idly.”

Stéphanie Montreuil, head of public affairs at the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said there was no indication the requirements would change.

“We have been led to believe that this government would collaborate with the unions and try to work together. So obviously something that comes out of nowhere like this doesn’t reflect those kinds of values.”

The Treasury Board of Canada says the new rules are being implemented because of the benefits of interacting in person on a “consistent” basis. It also says the new requirement aims to bring more fairness and consistency to the way the hybrid work model is applied.

Unions said there are already problems with existing hybrid work arrangements.

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“In many offices, our members are regularly forced to camp out in cafeterias or meet in uncomfortable hallways due to a shortage of available workspace, and these problems will continue to accumulate,” Aylward said.

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Montreuil also said union members are reporting problems finding available desks and meeting rooms.

Montreuil noted that the federal government said in its recent budget that it plans to reduce its office portfolio by half.

“How can we simultaneously increase the number of people we want in the office one more day a week?” she asked.

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