NEWS

Striking diplomats reach deal in labour dispute

09/26/2013 05:35 EDT | Updated 11/26/2013 05:12 EST
The union representing foreign service officers has reached a tentative deal with the Treasury Board, effectively ending one of the longest strikes in the federal public service, both sides announced Thursday afternoon.

Tim Edwards, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), posted the news on Twitter saying that the two sides had reached a settlement, adding that all strike measures would cease immediately.

"Good news for free collective bargaining," Edwards said.

In a written news statement, Treasury Board president Tony Clement said he was pleased to announce the two sides had reached a deal.

“The settlement represents the efforts of both parties to reach an agreement that is aligned with what was accepted by other public- and private-sector employees," Clement said.

“This is the same balanced and consistent approach which has allowed the government to settle 26 of 27 collectively bargained agreements in the core public administration.”

In an interview with CBC News, PAFSO member Chrystiane Roy said "we are elated. We are very very happy that this is finally over."

Roy said that Treasury Board officials approached the union last week wanting to reach a deal.

She said Clement hosted them today and they signed the agreements together. Roy said PAFSO will recommend the deal to its members and hopes to have a ratification vote within 10 days.​

NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar welcomed the news, adding that the dispute could have been avoided if the Conservatives had negotiated in good faith.

"Canada’s international presence depends on the patriotic dedication of our talented foreign service officers. Our diplomats take on personal risk and hardship in being posted abroad — they deserve our respect and gratitude for their service to our country," Dewar said in a written statement.

The Public Service Labour Relations Board ruled two weeks ago that the federal government had been bargaining in bad faith in its negotiations with striking diplomats.

The government "violated its duty to bargain collectively in good faith and make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement," concluded the board in its 27-page decision.

Roy said PAFSO believes that ruling helped spur the government to come back to the table.

The federal government signalled its intent to appeal the ruling with the Federal Court, as a way "to preserve all available options."

Foreign service officers were in a legal strike position since April 2.

The union representing the striking diplomats maintained there was a wage gap of up to $14,000 between diplomats and other government professionals.​

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