The federal government has made its policy clear: all employees of the core public administration must attest to being fully vaccinated to keep working. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment and to equip workers with the necessary protections (including personal protective equipment) to perform their jobs safely.
Ensuring that our members are provided with a safe work environment is paramount. From the beginning of the pandemic, UCTE has pushed employers to put member safety first through adequate safety protocols and prioritizing our front-line workers for vaccination availability.
The employer failed to achieve priority access to vaccination for some of their most at-risk workers. Deemed essential, many of our members continued working through the worst waves of this pandemic without access to vaccination and varying availability to PPE.
While UCTE/PSAC support vaccination for federal workers, the government has rushed their vaccination policy without meaningful consultation with bargaining agents. They failed to consider the feedback that bargaining agents provided to protect both our member’s health and their rights.
We have heard again and again from our members that they feel their rights and liberties are being infringed by this new policy. UCTE will continue to fight for our member’s rights to privacy, human rights, equity, AND health and safety.
There are legitimate medical and human rights basis for those who cannot be vaccinated. We urge you to participate fully in the educational programing provided through the government’s vaccination policy to learn more. For those demonstrating legitimate grounds, the employer has a duty to accommodate. UCTE/PSAC will continue to work with the employer to find creative means to accommodate these members.
The employer’s policy suggests the use of discipline or constructive termination of our members. Our position is that all options that must be considered before leaping to the ultimate consequence; workers must be reassigned or allowed alternate work arrangements. There are steps prescribed, both in your collective agreement and in employer policy, that must be taken before a member can be terminated.
Bargaining agents remain open to meaningful consultation regarding the employer’s policy on vaccination. We are also currently in the midst of negotiations for a new collective agreement for several groups of the core public administration. In these negotiations, we strive to have the extraordinary efforts made by our members during COVID recognized.
If you or a member you represent does not wish to be vaccinated or to share their vaccination status, and the request for accommodation has been denied, UCTE/PSAC will continue to provide representation to ensure that your/their privacy and workplace rights are respected during the implementation of this policy.
We would like to thank all UCTE members and union representatives who continue to exercise respect and professionalism when dealing with these contentious issues.