Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, you, our members, have been demonstrating incredible flexibility, creativity, caring, and dedication to your work helping Canadians. We have heard so many great examples of our members continually working hard on day-to-day duties, special projects, and adapting to the reality of the situation with amazing professionalism.
Some of our members have adapted their duties to work remotely, many have been involved in ensuring our safety when at the workplace, and everyone has remained completely dedicated to providing critical service to Canadians. We love hearing these examples and we need to hear about them to illustrate our critical work to the employer at the bargaining table.
During this time, we have been extremely engaged with management in both day-to-day activities as well as on several Divisional and National Committees.
Our Stewards and Executive have been in contact with many of your managers throughout this pandemic response. Many of us sit on divisional committees and working groups and in many cases, the employer has been asking for our input when developing their local pandemic response and recovery plans. This engagement is possible because of the hard work and relationships being established by our Union officials.
National Occupational Health and Safety Committee Meetings
As you know, we have a seat at the table on both the RCMP Member and RCMP Public Service National Occupational Health and Safety Committees. Throughout this pandemic, we have been fully engaged in both committees; our President has been very vocal on issues related specifically to your health and safety. This has been especially important during the current pandemic because many of you, as critical workers, must attend the workplace. Some of you also must stay home for your children, families, or to protect yourself from the virus. Many of you brought up very serious concerns and these were all raised at these bi-weekly meetings, escalated, and addressed as necessary.
National Joint Council / Treasury Board Meetings
Joining the National Joint Council (NJC) has been extremely beneficial. When the pandemic issue hit hard in March, we were part of especially important conversations right from the beginning. As part of the NJC, National Union Presidents, including ours, spoke directly with Treasury Board (TB) and had daily meetings with them on how to proceed. We directly influenced the directives that were written up with the first-hand knowledge of how to best protect our own members rights. Treasury Board was great to work with on this by giving us this direct voice.
These directives were sent to the department heads by TB to enact. So, in essence, many of the COVID-19 related bulletins, directives, and broadcasts that you see on the InfoWeb or in your e-mail are a DIRECT result of the work our Union is doing. This is especially thanks to our President and the other Union Presidents working collaboratively with TB as part of the NJC.
This working group has been amazing and extremely productive. If, for some reason, one of the departments did not comply, we would bring it up to our own department first (i.e RCMP) and if they still went against the directives, we would simply mention it on our daily calls with the NJC and TB and it would be immediately resolved. It was incredible to see TB give us this direct opportunity to help drive the pandemic protocols and response. It really has showcased the incredible results that can be achieved through collaboration with the employer and the Unions.
Following the initial response, these meetings changed to twice a week and now they have been changed to once per week. This is a great sign that things are stabilizing. Plans to reintegrate employees to the workplace are being developed but that does not mean that those that are at home should go back to work. In fact, it is the NJC Bargaining Agents position that people should continue to work remotely as much as possible.
If your manager or supervisor is changing their approach with all of this “return to work” talk and it concerns you, please let your Steward know immediately. They will work with you and escalate to our Executive, as necessary. For example, we are seeing some members being asked for a medical certificate when they are already at home due to medical related COVID-19 concerns. Medical certificates, including 2135s, are not required and this has been confirmed with RCMP and Treasury Board. We are also seeing some members facing pressure from management about coming back to work, even though they are away from the workplace for COVID-19 reasons, such as childcare, and their situation has not changed. If something doesn’t smell right, please bring it forward to your Union immediately.
Bargaining Agent / Senior Management Committee Meeting
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, the RCMP went into full force work mode. What they did not do was involve the Unions right from the start. This caused some issues because decisions were being made without input and consultation with the Unions which caused frustrations. It was a lesson learned and was rectified.
The RCMP Commissioner struck this Bargaining Agent / Senior Management Committee that included her, her senior staff, and Union Presidents. These meetings were held weekly and then became bi- weekly and are still occurring now. These meetings have been productive, and we have been vocal, representing your interests. We are able to get ahead of many issues before they impact our membership and it is critically important to keep your Stewards apprised of any issues so that we can continue to escalate and resolve these as well.
For the most part, RCMP Senior Management has reacted positively to suggestions that we have made. This committee is another example of building communication and trust between us and management. These collaborative relationships are paramount to ensuring the best working conditions for our members. We continue to take every available opportunity to engage with the employer and management to represent our members.