BETWEEN THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES (UTE) AND THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY (CRA)
The Commissioner, Mr. William Baker, chaired the meeting and began by welcoming everyone and introducing the new Management members.
The Commissioner took the opportunity to note the good work conducted by Mr. Michel Dorais, during his tenure as the former Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Commissioner. Mr. Dorais believed in the importance of Union-Management relations, in that both parties shared a joint responsibility to work together in an atmosphere of trust and respect. He was committed to making the best possible use of the Union-Management consultation process and encouraged everyone to have open and transparent discussions. Mr. Baker was confident that Management and UTE would resolve issues/concerns on a timely basis.
As this was the Commissioner’s first National Union-Management Consultation Committee (NUMCC) meeting with the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE), Mr. Baker confirmed his personal commitment to Union-Management consultation and to keep up the CRA’s longstanding tradition of maintaining a solid working relationship with the Unions. The Commissioner would continue to attend the NUMCC meetings with all the Assistant Commissioners to hear questions and concerns as presented by the Union.
The Commissioner noted that since the last NUMCC meeting, approximately 64 meetings had taken place with UTE on various issues such as ACS-SP, job competency profiles, competency consultants and the Term Employment Study. As a result of this ongoing dialogue, the NUMCC forum allowed both parties to focus on a smaller number of agenda items and to take stock of the progress made in between the NUMCC meetings. The Commissioner encouraged the Union to continue to raise issues through Labour Relations, in order that concerns could be addressed in a timely manner with the appropriate Management representatives.
Betty Bannon, National President of UTE, was pleased to have the decision-makers hear the concerns of the Union, first hand. She was also encouraged by the Commissioner’s comments about resolving issues in a timely manner and was hopeful that this approach would be applied during the collective bargaining process. The Union agreed with the Commissioner regarding the importance of keeping the lines of communication open at all levels and, as such, would continue to meet with the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch, on a regular basis.
The Union went on to ask for a briefing on the launch of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and the announcement of a Taxpayers' Ombudsman. Management agreed to meet with the Unions to discuss this initiative.
The Union also expressed its disappointment regarding the Government’s move to sell off nine Crown-owned buildings, four of which the CRA was the major tenant. The National President asked that the Commissioner speak to the CRA Minister on this matter. The Commissioner replied that he had already advised the Minister of the Union’s concerns.
The Commissioner went on to state that the Public Service Renewal initiative was on the horizon and that Management would be consulting with the Unions to obtain their views and input. He was confident that by working together, both parties would be able to rise to the challenge.
The Commissioner also mentioned that during Public Service week, he had an opportunity to thank employees for their continued good work and dedication to the organization.
AGENCY 2010 VISION
Management stated that the Agency needed to continue to demonstrate its effectiveness and efficiency with respect to its core business activities. Consequently, since the last NUMCC meeting, the Agency had moved forward with a number of key projects such as the Service Strategy, the Business Development Strategy, the analysis of the Geography of Work and the CRA’s functional model. The Service Strategy would be presented to the Agency Management Committee (AMC) in the fall of 2007. Management agreed to provide the Union with a draft copy of the Agency Vision Service Strategy. Management then noted that an email on the Business Development Strategy had been sent to all Agency employees on April 13, 2007, and subsequently posted on Infozone.
As for the Corporate Tax Administration for Ontario (CTAO) initiative, Management mentioned that the six joint CRA / Ontario Ministry of Revenue (OMoR) Overarching Groups continued to meet on a regular basis. The Audit, Rulings and Appeals; Taxpayer Services Debt Management; and Assessing and Accounting Overarching Groups had developed transition plans that outlined the key elements for tax administration functions. The transition plans would be reviewed following the conclusion of the Human Resources Agreement and adjusted accordingly, as appropriate.
CRA FIVE-YEAR REVIEW
The Union asked for an update with respect to the overall findings of the Parliamentary Review Committee’s Five-Year Review Report. In particular, the Union was interested in Management’s view on the recommendation that the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) play no role in the negotiations between the CRA and the bargaining agents.
Management stated that the Government tabled its response to the Report prepared by the Standing Committee on Finance on April 16, 2007. While the Government agreed with 12 of the 13 Committee recommendations, it did not agree with the proposal to conduct a parliamentary review every five years given that the CRA’s Annual Report and departmental performance report provided sufficient information on the status of the Agency. Management went on to mention that the CRA considered the Report to be positive and a strong endorsement of the Agency Model.
On the matter of collective bargaining, Management noted that under the Canada Revenue Agency Act, the CRA had sole responsibility to enter into a collective agreement with the bargaining agent. However, while Treasury Board Secretariat’s approval for bargaining was not needed, the CRA was required to consult with TBS on its human resources plan, which included salary and benefits.
While UTE acknowledged the points raised by Management, it expected the CRA to have the flexibility to take some calculated risks with the funding during bargaining.
COMPETENCY BASED HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT (CBHRM)
Management stated that the Job Competency Profile (JCP) and the Competency Consultants (CC) working groups had presented their recommendations to the Competency Based Human Resources Management (CBHRM) Advisory Committee in mid-April. The recommendations for the JCP working group were then presented to and approved by the Agency Management Committee (AMC). To date, most of the action plans had either been put in place or were under development for many of the recommendations. The Advisory Committee met earlier this month to further discuss the proposals developed by the CC working group. Management would consult with the Unions on the recommendations, following consultations with the CBHRM Advisory Committee.
Management further added that a communications strategy would be developed to ensure that all employees were made aware of the work undertaken in regards to CBHRM. The Union would be provided with a copy of the CBHRM communications products, which included the “CBHRM Vision”, “What has been Accomplished to Date” and “What are the Plans for the Future”, as they became available.
Management expressed appreciation to all participants that had been actively involved in the discussions and took the opportunity to thank the Union for their participation.
Since the last NUMCC meeting, Management and the Union met to discuss concerns with compensation services on several occasions. Management confirmed that there had been a decrease in the number of emails received and that the issues now being brought forward were more complex in nature. The National President acknowledged that the number of compensation cases had declined, however, she would continue to advise the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch of the more complicated cases. Management agreed to look into the individual cases as they were brought forward. Furthermore, Management also committed to continue to monitor the quality of compensation services.
On another note, Management stated that the funding for compensation services had been secured for another two years, during the transition period. The Union asked if the CRA had identified the end-state number of employees required to deliver compensation services in the future. Management replied that it would be looking at approximately 325 to 350 Full-Time-Equivalent positions (FTE).
Management went on to mention that within the next few weeks, a meeting would be scheduled to discuss the changes to the pension services being implemented across the Federal Public Service including the transfer of the work to Shediac, New Brunswick.
The Commissioner took the opportunity to state that a great deal of good work had been done to resolve the issues raised by employees and encouraged both parties to continue the momentum.
DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY – APPROVAL OF A GUARANTEE OF A REASONABLE JOB OFFER
The Union asked for an update on the request to lower the delegation of authority for the approval of a guarantee of a reasonable job offer from the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch level to the Director level.
Management stated that further to discussions with the Union, a working group was established to determine the benefits of lowering the Delegation of Authority to another Management level. The group was also tasked with identifying the required tools that would facilitate an efficient and coherent process. Management anticipated that the group would be ready to meet with UTE in August to hear the Union’s concerns first hand. Furthermore, Management stated that the work being conducted should be completed by the end of September 2007, and any additional discussions required on this matter would be conducted through the National Workforce Adjustment (WFA) Committee.
The Union expressed disappointment that UTE had not been asked to be part of this working group as it would have been more than willing to meet with Management to provide any clarification required. That being said, the Union asked to be provided with the names of the individuals researching this matter. Management agreed.
Management went on to mention that, from this date forward, WFA issues would normally be dealt with through the National WFA Committee and Labour Relations had agreed to prepare minutes to reflect those discussions and decisions.
Management stated that UTE representatives had recently been provided with a status update on this initiative. In addition, the CRA decided to delay the implementation of the “No Currency” initiative until mid-August 2007, and allow the majority of T1 payments to be processed.
The Union asked Management when the Payment Counters presentation deck would be available for distribution. Management agreed to advise UTE when it could disseminate the deck to regional and local Union representatives. Management also agreed to provide the Union with a copy of any external communications products, as soon as they were available.
JOINT UNION-MANAGEMENT TERM EMPLOYMENT STUDY
Management was pleased to note that since the signing of the Term Commitment, 48% of term employees impacted by the commitment had been appointed to permanent positions. This percentage represented approximately 530 long-term terms.
At a meeting held on April 16, 2007, the Union was advised that many of the Term Employment Study recommendations had been completed and that Management would continue to work on the outstanding recommendations and provide the Union with an update, scheduled for
October 15, 2007. At the October meeting, Management would also provide the Union with an update on the “Management of Terms” regional training sessions. Management went on to thank UTE for its participation and contribution at the December 5, 2006, information/training session.
The Union stated that the memo disseminated to the regions on the “Management of Terms” needed to be adhered to, specifically the portion regarding the annual review of term employment exceeding two or more years without a break in service.
Management then stated that it would look into the feasibility of using indeterminate seasonal employment and get back to the Union.
PROBATION OF TERMS
The Union stated that it had met with Management on May 30, 2007, and had raised concerns that term employees were often on probation due to a break in service of one day. UTE proposed that the break period be changed from one day to one month, at a minimum. Management had already begun looking into the Union’s concern and would get back to UTE on this issue in October.
The Union stated that further to a meeting with CRA representatives, it was in the process of reviewing the proposed list of the essential positions, as well as the lists of jobs for which the positions were identified as essential.
The Union then advised that the CRA would be served with the notice to bargain on
July 3, 2007. That being said, the first set of meetings between Management and the Union had already been scheduled for July 10, 11 and 12, 2007. The Union reiterated its view that the negotiating team should remain at the bargaining table for longer periods of time.
The Union asked who had been appointed to the Agency’s negotiating team. Management agreed to provide the Union with a list of the CRA negotiating team members. Management also committed to meet with UTE to discuss the approval process for the posting of Union strike bulletins.
TAXPAYER SERVICES DEBT MANAGEMENT PILOT PROJECTS
Management stated that it had met the Union on April 3, 2007, to discuss such issues as the Work Assessment Project, the Remote Quality Listening Project and regional initiatives, to name a few. Management would continue to meet with the Union on an ad hoc basis and provide updates on Taxpayer Services Debt Management Branch issues, including pilots. Management went on to mention that all pilots would be assigned end dates.
AGENCY CLASSIFICATION STANDARD (ACS)
Management provided a status update of the Agency Classification Standard (ACS) for the Services and Programs (SP) group.
Management stated that it had met with the Union on March 28, 2007, to discuss the Gender Neutrality Report (GNR) on the draft ACS-SP and the changes brought to the standard to address certain issues identified in the GNR. The Union was provided with the complete report, as well as a copy of the latest draft ACS-SP. The information also included the weights, point bands and resulting number of SP levels.
In January 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the CRA and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) was signed. The MOU included measures to address job content issues related to the short format work descriptions, which had also been implemented in January 2007. It also offered an informal review process prior to official grievances being submitted, which would streamline the administration of grievances for both parties.
Management went on to state that the SP Standard and work description evaluation results would be provided to the PSAC, following the Agency Management Committee’s approval, expected in July 2007. Furthermore, Management representatives would meet with UTE over the summer months, if needed, to obtain clarification and discuss potential resolutions to the job content issues.
Management took the opportunity to express its appreciation to UTE and the CRA employees, for the hard work and time spent on this significant project. A joint Union-Management thank you note was sent to all the Union and Management SP Contacts for their collaboration throughout the consolidation and implementation of the short format work descriptions. This was an excellent example of the solid working relationship between the CRA and UTE.
The Union agreed that ACS-SP was an important initiative and also thanked everyone for the dedication shown throughout the process. The National President went on to mention that once the negotiating teams were in a position to discuss the ACS-SP salary bands, the Union would share a document with the CRA outlining its position on increments.
UNION-MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE (UMI)
Management was pleased to announce that Mr. Larry Hillier, Assistant Commissioner, Ontario Region, had been named the National Union-Management Initiative (UMI) Champion for the Agency. Mr. Hillier replaced Bob Russell, who retired from the CRA in the fall of 2006.
Management stated that the last UMI Train-the-trainer session had been held the week of
April 30, 2007, and that the regions were ready to move forward. Management and UTE had been made aware that during a few of the UMI training sessions some managers and Union representatives had clearly not dedicated their time and attention to this initiative. As such, a reminder would be issued to both managers and Union representatives concerning the importance of committing to the success of this program.
Management went on to mention that the UMI video had been adapted for the hearing impaired and distributed to the region. In addition, the participant’s UMI training manual would be available in Braille and shared with the regions. Management also stated that the Calgary office had designed a three-panel business card, which included the UMI philosophy and the five steps to interest-based negotiations. The card would be available to UMI training participants across the Agency.
The National President stressed the importance of the UMI rollout, as it would involve a major cultural change for the Agency. Management was encouraged to see that UTE continued to be supportive of this initiative and stated that a joint communiqué to employees on the status of UMI implementation would be issued shortly.
The Union was pleased to announce that the UTE National Executive had agreed to support the changes made to the Dispute Resolution Policy, which would now be referred to as the Conflict Resolution Policy. The Union went on to commend all the participants on the National UMI Steering Committee for their hard work and commitment to this initiative. The ongoing and open dialogue was another good example of meaningful consultation.
The Commissioner thanked everyone for the open exchange and was pleased that both parties had the opportunity to discuss the issues in the usual respectful manner.
The National President also thanked everyone for their contributions during the meeting.
Both Union and Management wished the participants a safe and happy summer.
Original signed by
Original signed by
Date: November 20, 2007
Date: November 2, 2007