Joint Consultation Committee - Review of the Directive on Virtual Work Arrangements

Update on the Joint Consultation Committee between the CRA and UTE on the review of the Directive on Virtual Work Arrangements

Sisters, Brothers and Friends,

As you probably know, during the last round of collective bargaining and after taking strike action, the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE)  and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) entered into a Letter of Agreement that called for the creation of a Joint Consultation Committee to examine and make recommendations with respect to Virtual Work Arrangements and Remote Work.

The Joint Consultation Committee (JCC) on the Directive on Virtual Work Arrangements between UTE and the CRA held its first meeting in September 2023 and met five times, reviewing and proposing revisions to the current Directive in its entirety, as per the Letter of Agreement (LOA). These proposed revisions were forwarded to the appropriate authorities of the employer for consideration and we are awaiting a report of the employer’s decisions in this regard.

Through the course of these meetings, other topics were raised by the employer’s representatives, including considerations for supporting documents and instruments to support the Directive, as well as the requirement for on-site presence. Our UTE representatives advocated at each meeting their goal of affording more flexibility for our members to request and be granted telework arrangements that suit their needs and the expansion of the exemptions for a required on-site presence. Throughout these meetings, however, the employer maintained its current position on the required on-site presence.

In light of the Commissioner’s recent arbitrary and unilateral decision, and without consultation with UTE, to comply with the Treasury Board Direction of an increase to an average of three days per week regarding the Rollout of On-site Presence (ROOP), UTE contacted the CRA JCC Co-Chair to determine if the employer was able and willing to live up to the spirit and intent of the LOA and to continue discussions despite the Commissioner’s decision. It was made abundantly clear to us that the employer’s representatives to the JCC had no authority to deviate from the Commissioner’s decision.

As a result, after careful consideration, UTE communicated to the CRA that we are of the opinion that the employer is in breach of the LOA and that we saw no further purpose at this time in continuing consultations at the JCC. We did indicate, however, that we are available to consult further at such time that the employer indicates its willingness to reconsider its position.

In response to the Commissioner’s decision at a time when the parties were supposed to be engaged in meaningful consultation, UTE has asked the bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to file an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint against the CRA, alleging that the employer had failed to negotiate in good faith, and to file a Policy Grievance pursuant to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act challenging the employer’s decision.

Once again, this employer has demonstrated its lack of respect for its employees and your Union and moreover, it again has proven that its “People First” philosophy is merely lip service when it comes to its employees and only applies to taxpayers.

In the very near future, you will receive further communications from UTE suggesting campaigns and activities in which you, the members, will be strongly encouraged to participate to decry this ill-conceived decision of the Commissioner and to challenge this decision.

In Solidarity,

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Marc Brière's signature

Marc Brière
National President
Union of Taxation Employees