Bulletin 01/09

February 6, 2009
To :  Executive Council
Alternate Regional Vice-Presidents
Local Presidents
All Staff

Re:  Compensation

Was Compensation ever perfect?  No, it was not!  However, when you had Compensation workers in your own office, it was a matter of going to see them and to explain the problem and the corrections were usually instituted almost immediately.  You could also obtain a salary advance within 12 to 24 hours, if it was needed. 

Since the employer, the CRA, moved to a centralized Compensation model the problems have become more visible and in some case, more complex.  Part of this can be attributed to no longer having face to face dealings with each other and not having the knowledge and background of each other.  Before the centralization we knew who our pay person was and they knew us and our file quite well.  That doesn’t happen anymore. 

UTE has tried to advise the employer from the very beginning that this would not be a move that would easily work nor be accepted by the membership.  All of this has proven true from the outset.  I am going to list some of the problems that were encountered from the beginning of the centralization of Compensation from each office to Winnipeg and Ottawa:

  • The loss of compensation knowledge from the TSO and TC compensation people who did not move to the Centres
  • The hiring and training of “new” Compensation workers
  • The immediate large workload for “new” Compensation workers
  • The retention of the Compensation workers, especially in Ottawa where the turnover was huge
  • The Corporate Administrative System (CAS), need I say more

These problems were immediate and in turn caused more serious problems with our members’ pay.  Added to that, there were actions in the TSO and TC offices that also caused problems:

  • Late, incomplete or incorrect paperwork sent to the Centres
  • CAS inability to compute anything but the “norm” when the schedules of our members are often outside of the “norm”
  • Delay in receiving compensation advice or receiving wrong advice
  • Everyone being new to this way of doing business
  • Actions that were not done locally or regionally in accordance with established procedures that came to light when the files were moved to the Centres

All of this resulted in some of our members being paid too much and having to have the overpayment recouped, not being paid enough or not being paid at all.  It was also taking no less than 3 days to obtain a salary advance, if that was required.  Needless to say the Union, the membership and in some cases even Management ended up not being too pleased with the system that was put in place for Compensation.

The first thing that UTE did was to raise the issue at a National Union Management meeting and to schedule a meeting with the CRA Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner of HR and Compensation and the Director General of Compensation to lay out our concerns more specifically and to attempt to find solutions to the issues.  It was apparent to the union that these issues were of monumental importance to our membership as everyone deserves to receive their pay on time and the correct amount that is due to them.  On that point, the employer did not disagree.  The Compensation issue was also raised during a meeting with Gordon O’Connor, our Minister at that time. 

It was later decided that all compensation issues would come to the UTE National President if they were not able to be corrected at the local level.  Little did I know at the time how much time would be involved in dealing with these issues.  However, in almost every case, the issues were rectified within days by Compensation HQ Corporate.  The advantage of having the issues come to a single source gave us a good picture of the types of issues, the geographic areas where they were coming from and the number of issues requiring attention.  Non compensation problems, such as “systems” problems also came to light and were corrected.   A subsequent meeting was held with the Commissioner and an Action Plan was later initiated for the Compensation issues. 

Follow up meetings were held on a fairly regular basis with the Compensation HQ Corporate and are still going on today.  The Action Plan has been reviewed and updated and all problems are no longer coming to the UTE National President.  They are going from the local then to the Regional Vice President (RVP) and only to the National President if the problem has not been resolved.  In a four month period since the Action Plan has been in place I have only had two or three issues referred to my attention.   

We have reviewed the issues since the Compensation Centres began and we have seen a steady improvement over time.  A recent analysis through our locals and RVPs was conducted and the number of issues being raised appears to have decreased significantly in most parts of the country.  However, it is clear that many issues remain for our Term members and more specifically, those in the Province of Quebec.  The two RVPs in Quebec have been mandated to deal with this issue with their Regional Assistant Commissioner and I will also continue to deal with Compensation HQ Corporate. 

It is our intention to “drill down” on the issues to find out specifically the where, when, who and why is the cause of the issues that are being raised.  Further meetings will be held with Compensation HQ Corporate and the RVPS will report to me on their progress at the Regional level.

We need to be clear that the Compensation Centres are here to stay and we need to find the best way to represent our members who experience Compensation problems.  In doing that we need to make sure that the lines of communication with the employer remain open and that we are free to examine the issues that are being raised.  The membership should continue to contact their local union when having difficulties with Compensation issues.  I do not need to remind you that the people who work in Compensation are our members as well.  We need to be attentive to make sure that there are a sufficient number of properly trained Compensation workers to meet the needs of the CRA payroll and surrounding issues that they are responsible for.   

This Bulletin and the accompanying most recent Action Plan should be given wide distribution to the membership.

In Solidarity,

Betty Bannon

National President
Union of Taxation Employees