National Union-Management Committee (NUMC)

MINUTES OF THE NATIONAL UNION-MANAGEMENT CONSULTATION COMMITTEE (numcc) MEETING BETWEEN THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES (UTE) AND THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY (CRA)  HELD ON DECEMBER 4, 2008

December 4, 2008

National Union-Management Committee (NUMC)

MINUTES OF THE NATIONAL UNION-MANAGEMENT CONSULTATION COMMITTEE (numcc) MEETING BETWEEN THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES (UTE) AND THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY (CRA)
 HELD ON DECEMBER 4, 2008

opening remarks

Betty Bannon, National President, Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) chaired the meeting and began by welcoming everyone. She then invited William Baker, the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), to make his opening remarks.

The Commissioner also extended a welcome to all in attendance and was proud to report that CRA employees had raised a total of $3,468,175, as part of the 2008 Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC). He acknowledged and recognized UTE’s valuable support for the GCWCC throughout the year, and thanked the UTE National President for her attendance at the launch and for encouraging employees to donate during critical points of the Campaign.

The Commissioner then noted that, in addition to the numerous phone calls and informal discussions held between Management and UTE, 34 ad hoc meetings had taken place on various subjects since the last National Union-Management Consultation Committee (NUMCC) meeting. He believed that this was a testament to the good relationship that existed between the CRA and UTE.
 
The Commissioner also took the opportunity to congratulate the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the CRA negotiating teams for receiving the CRA Award of Excellence. The Awards Ceremony was a proud and historical moment for both the Agency and UTE.

The National President agreed that the signing of the current collective agreement was of great historical significance and proved that by meeting early in the process, as well as setting aside dedicated time to meet, the parties were able to conclude an early agreement. The Union then mentioned that the UTE Collective Bargaining Committee had scheduled its first meeting for January 2009 and was expecting the same commitment of cooperation from the CRA during the next round of negotiations. UTE would be requesting that collective bargaining be on the agenda for the June 2009 NUMCC meeting.

The Union was also pleased that the CRA Management and UTE signed a joint Memorandum of Agreement regarding the maternity and paternity leave allowance proving that by Management and the Union working together, concerns can be addressed and resolved in a timely manner.

The National President then requested confirmation that if the upcoming Federal Budget included a wage rollback for UTE, as per the Government’s recent economic statement, it would only take effect on November 1, 2009. The Union also questioned what would happen in the fourth year of the Government’s plan given that the current collective agreement expired in 2010.

The Commissioner stated this would be a Government directed decision that would ultimately take the form of legislation; however, the Union’s understanding sounded reasonable. Management did not have any information available regarding the status of the fourth year.

The National President stated that she had solicited the support of various Government leaders, including the Minister of National Revenue, in the Union’s campaign against any pay rollback in future legislation, and asked for CRA’s support as well.

The National President also suggested that the CRA consider hiring additional collectors and auditors to deal with the likely increase in the underground economy as a result of the current economic climate.

AGENCY PRIORITIES

The Commissioner stated that the Agency Management Committee had started to work on next year’s Corporate Business Plan and would focus, in part, on the critical opportunities and challenges that the Agency would face in the future. Consequently, the Agency was in the very early stages of developing a number of key initiatives to encourage compliance, as well as communicate to Canadians the importance of paying taxes. Management would also be developing a long term plan to promote the stability and sustainability of the tax system. In addition, the CRA would endeavour to engage the provinces and territories in discussions to promote compliance.  

Management went on to note that the Board of Management had requested certain amendments to the CRA Service Strategy, including clear objectives to track the progress of the strategy implementation. Management would meet with UTE on the revised version of the CRA Service Strategy, which had been shared with the Union on November 18, 2008.

COMPETENCY BASED HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

Management stated that, as a result of the Recourse Process Working Group meetings, work had begun on the various suggestions and recommendations. The existing documentation related to recourse was being reviewed to ensure consistency of terminology, clarity and accuracy. The forms to request Individual Feedback (IF) and Decision Review (DR) had been revised, while at the same time, progress was being made to improve the accuracy and integrity of IF and DR data entered in Corporate Administration System (CAS).

Management went on to state that other improvements included the sanitization of the Independent Third Party Review decisions prior to publication on InfoZone, access to recourse-related information on InfoZone, and improvements to the Recourse Monitoring Framework and the Formal Complaint Mechanism process. Furthermore, a Human Resources Branch monitoring exercise had taken place in the Prairie Region in November 2008. Management also stated that a section had been added on recourse and disclosure of information in the Delegation of Staffing Authority Training session, as well as in the Selection Board Training and the “Just in Time” sessions for employees. Management then thanked the Union for its contribution to the Working Groups, as well as the positive and constructive feedback provided during the meetings.

The Union continued to be of the view that that there should be Union representation at all levels of staffing recourse. That being said, UTE welcomed the opportunity to participate on the Working Groups, and requested that consideration be given to provide the Union with two seats, given that this would better reflect the population of its membership. Management would consider UTE’s request for two seats on any future Union-Management working groups. UTE also requested greater flexibility and ample notice of proposed meeting dates.

Management agreed with the Union’s proposal to keep track of suggestions made during the Working Group meetings that were not directly related to the issue at hand, for future consideration. Management went on to state that the CRA would continue to consult with UTE and move forward on Agency initiatives.

COMPENSATION SERVICES

Management reiterated its commitment to address and resolve compensation services issues and, as such, developed a Compensation Action Plan, in consultation with UTE, to resolve issues at the lowest possible level. The Plan addressed matters such as training, work transfer, telephone service, quality review and technology, as well as the Outreach Presentation to the Regional Management Teams and the Regional Unions. It also included a communication protocol involving the UTE Regional Vice-Presidents (RVPs). The RVPs were the designated points of contact between the employees and the Winnipeg or Ottawa Compensation Client Services Centre (CCSC) when employees’ own attempts to resolve their pay issues, through the National Enquiries Services and the Compensation Problem Resolution Program, were not successful. If the issues could not be resolved locally or regionally, they would be brought to the attention of the Director of Corporate Compensation through the National President. Management would continue to monitor this approach to ensure that the Compensation Problem Resolution Program was functioning well.
 
The Union acknowledged that, since the final Action Plan had been put in place,the number of complaints to the National President had decreased; however, there had been some issues dealt with by the RVPs, some of which were due to CAS limitations. Consequently, the Union was conducting an analysis of the compensation issues and would share the results with Management. In turn, Management would review the compensation cases brought forward by the Union. UTE went on to stress that it was critical for the Agency to pay its employees accurately and on time, and that Assistant Commissioners or Directors should be given the authority to sign advance emergency cheques.

Management confirmed that a meeting with UTE was scheduled to take place on January 6, 2009, to provide an update on the Compensation Action Plan, and stated how important it was for both parties to continue to work together to address and resolve the issues.

UNION MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE

Management was pleased to note that as of November 7, 2008, 255 Union-Management Initiative (UMI) training sessions had been delivered and 3,768 employees had participated in the training, across the country. These numbers included the 8 large group UMI training sessions held in the Headquarters (HQ) Region. While this format had its challenges, in terms of securing the right venues for training and ensuring that skilled and experienced facilitators were available, the HQ Regional UMI Steering Committee worked diligently to ensure that training was delivered. UTE agreed that the Headquarters training session had been a challenge; however, the Union would continue to work together with the Agency to ensure UMI’s success. Further to the Union’s request, Management would provide UTE with the regional breakdown of the UMI sessions and participants, as of November 7, 2008.

Management then mentioned that, in other regions, training delivery had slowed down, in part because of the high turnover of UMI trainers. In order to address the issue, each Regional UMI Steering Committee had been tasked with selecting individuals to train-the-trainers.

Management stated that a lot of good work and resources had been invested in UMI and was encouraged to see that UTE continued to demonstrate its commitment towards this initiative. As a result, Management and the Union would explore options to give recognition to facilitators or participants that had attended a high number of UMI training sessions.

TERM EMPLOYEES WORKING IN CALL CENTRES

The Union continued to be of the view that the core majority of employees at the Call Centres should be hired on a permanent basis. UTE then raised the issue of working conditions in the Call Centre and the high ratio of terms employees. The Union met with the Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch (TSDMB) on November 26, 2008, to discuss matters such as the standardization of staffing ratios, hours of work, pensionable hours, compensation concerns and quality of life issues. UTE took the opportunity to thank the TSDMB Management Team for the good discussions.

Management agreed with the Union regarding the outcome of the November 26th meeting and to pursue a dialogue with a view to ensure common understanding of the issues and challenges associated with Call Centre Management and meeting taxpayer expectations in terms of service accessibility.

Further to the Union’s request, Management would meet with the Union to discuss issues of concern regarding term employees working in the Winnipeg Forms Call Centre, as well as the Compensation Client Service Centres.

PHASED RETIREMENT

Management stated that there had not been any movement with respect to the issue of phased retirement. However, Management would continue to monitor the status of the Public Service Superannuation Act regarding any potential changes to the legislation related to phased retirement.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Commissioner took the opportunity to thank all the participants for a productive meeting. He expected 2009 to be a very interesting and challenging year, and that the Agency would continue to look into opportunities for more business growth.

Both the Commissioner and the National President wished everyone the very best of the holiday season.

Original signed by
William Baker
Commissioner
Canada Revenue Agency

Original signed by
Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

March 23, 2009

March 16, 2009

Date: 

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