Employees in auditor general's office to protest lack of pay equity Thursday
A group of about 170 employees within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) have planned a protest on Thursday to demand pay equity.
The Audit Services Group, composed of staff whose work goes into the making of the auditor general’s reports, is taking issue with the fact that they haven’t seen the same kind of salary increases as other government departments and still lack a formal wage grid.
“They’re the lowest paid workers at the OAG. Essentially what this fight is about is pay equity. We’re seeking the same economic increases that were achieved elsewhere under Treasury Board, the same increases that other workers at the OAG, managers, and executives got," said Alex Silas, the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s regional executive vice-president for the National Capital Region in an interview with CTVNews.ca.
“This is only group at the OAG that doesn’t have a wage grid, so we’re trying to establish the same wage grid that non-unionized workers, managers, and executives have.”
Silas said that 75 per cent of the Audit Services Group is composed of women.
“These members are super mobilized, super united, they’ve really come together in this fight for fairness and they’re standing up to an employer that is opposing fairness,” he said.
The protest is set to take place tomorrow outside Ottawa’s Sir John A. Macdonald building just before the auditor general holds a press conference to debut four new reports on the government’s response to COVID-19.
The group has been on strike since Nov. 26 and conducted a full walkout last Wednesday. According to Silas, management has taken the step of suspending pay during the strike.
“Typically the Treasury Board of Canada doesn’t actually withhold pay during a strike…and then those wages are reimbursed to the employer but the Office of the Auditor General has decided to take a harsher approach,” he said.
In a statement to CTVNews.ca, Yan Michaud, director of communications for the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, said the office continues to administer pay and benefits for all employees “per its established practices, which is to pay our employees in an accurate and timely manner for the hours that they work.”
According to a government website, in the event of labour disruptions, pay cheques and direct deposit payments will continue to be produced and issued to striking employees on the regular payday.
Salary “overpayments” due to striking will be recovered from a later pay period.
Michaud's statement also said a new offer was presented on Wednesday but out of respect for the collective bargaining process, the OAG couldn’t comment on it.
Silas said the new offer doesn’t address the group’s main concerns.
“It’s essentially the same as the old offer that members have already rejected,” he said. “We’re seeking a three-year contract, they’ve offered us a four-year contract with the same increase in year four, the same 1.5 per cent.”