Sisters and Brothers,
Further to our message of May 15, 2020, the National Office of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) has engaged in a series of discussions with senior representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency concerning the forced deployment of some of our members into certain positions in Call Centres. As explained in our original communication, UTE agreed to not oppose situations where our members volunteered to temporarily perform duties in the administration and delivery of the COVID Emergency Benefits. Furthermore, to clarify matters, at no time did UTE agree to our members assisting in performing the functions of Call Centre Agents. When some members were temporarily assigned to these positions involuntarily, UTE intervened in the matter.
These ongoing discussions with the CRA culminated in two formal meetings last week during which the parties engaged in meaningful and respectful consultation focussed on identifying solutions supporting the delivery of the Agency’s mandate, while respecting members’ legislative, collective agreement and policy rights.
As a result, we are pleased to announce that the employer has agreed that employees will not be forcibly deployed into other positions. Moreover, they have advised us that while collections activities have been temporarily suspended, there will be a gradual resumption of these activities commencing in July throughout the summer and into the early fall, at which time it is anticipated that all permanent Collections and Verification Branch (CVB) employees would return to their substantive positions. The CRA has also committed to offer continued employment opportunities for our determinate (term) members by offering them opportunities to work in positions related to the administration and delivery of the Emergency Benefits or in Call Centres. Relatedly, the employer has agreed to return our term members to their former positions to the extent possible when normal workloads resume. With respect to our members who are assisting with the administration and delivery of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the employer is of the position that the duties being performed by these employees are consistent with their current work description.
UTE recognizes the CRA’s efforts to contribute to the economic well-being of all Canadians and is proud of the work of our members to achieve this mandate. The CRA will be issuing a call imminently seeking volunteers to be temporarily assigned to the positions that I have previously described. Permanent employees who volunteer will be provided with a letter offering a temporary lateral move. This letter will also assure those permanent employees that the terms and conditions of their substantive position will continue during the period of the temporary lateral move and that they will be returned to their substantive position at the end of the temporary assignment.
UTE encourages those members who are interested to volunteer to take on these temporary assignments to assist Canadians in this critical time of need.
We especially suggest that term employees seriously consider volunteering in order to safeguard their continued employment to the extent possible.
We are confident that our members will respond favourably as you have already done when the Emergency Benefits were first announced.
Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest that you contact your local union representative to discuss the matter.