Bargaining sessions took place recently for the AD and AS groups. The AS group met on September 25th while the AD group met on October 3rd. After only one day of bargaining for each group, it became apparent that settlements were not possible. Both groups felt very strongly that, with agreements that expired in April 2005 and with delays since at least November 2005 when our demands were submitted, at the very least, any settlement should mirror comparable public service agreements. The main sticking points were the deletion of the current Marriage Leave provision and the addition of 5 additional days of annual leave, and in the case of the AS group, the addition of new steps to address the compression problem at levels 1 to 4. Table 1 in the public service (the main point of comparison used by NRC) has this additional 5 days of annual leave as do many other groups in the public service.
Your bargaining teams felt that adding 5 extra days of annual leave would clearly benefit the majority of members, while the deletion of marriage leave would only impact a very small minority. The teams felt that it was very important to keep pace with the public service. NRC, for its part, did not invoke the usual refrain that Treasury Board had not given them a mandate (permission) to provide this benefit. Rather, they claimed they were not interested in extending this benefit and also could not afford to do so. We have estimated the cost of extending this benefit to the AS group, for example, to be approximately $210,000. Surely keeping NRC employees in line with their public service counterparts is worth this amount.
The next step, for both groups, is to request the establishment of Arbitration Boards to hear each case. Arbitration Boards are three person tribunals under the Public Service Labour Relations Act. After the submission of oral and written arguments, these Boards render final and binding decisions on outstanding items to be contained in collective agreements.
In the case of both groups, we will be seeking decisions on several outstanding items, including pay and duration.
The respective bargaining teams have decided that, despite the length of time since the expiry of the current agreements, they will not be hurried into poor agreements. They feel it is more important to get the best agreements possible. We trust that all AD and AS group members will support the RCEA in this.