Tuesday, December 19, 2006

CSE collective agreement ratified

Playing a little catch-up with this one...

The 1500 or so CSE employees who are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) ratified their latest collective agreement in October. According to PSAC ("PSAC members at Communications Security Establishment ratify collective agreement," PSAC News Release, 4 October 2006), the agreement "provides for wage increases of 2.4%, retroactive to February 2006, and 2.5%, effective February 2007, as well as an increase in wage increments and Market Allowance. It is also among the first agreements negotiated by the PSAC that provides bonuses to eligible workers who speak languages other than French or English, through the Foreign Language Incentive Program."

Although it was based on a tentative agreement reached between PSAC and CSE management in February, the final contract as approved by Treasury Board did not, however, include an agreed section on Mathematicians Compensation that "would have provided a form of retention bonus for mathematicians, a position that has a high turnover in the CSE." (Maybe Treasury Board doesn't realize that cryptanalysts do have other career options these days.)

Notwithstanding the inevitable occasional dispute, CSE has usually maintained relatively good relations with its union(s). Contract negotiations did become tense in 1999 and there was actually talk of potential strike action (see Kathryn May, "Spies near strike: 'We can't talk about it'. A very quiet kind of labour dispute," Ottawa Citizen, 10 March 1999). However, there is very little likelihood of such a threat ever being carried out.

The only serious labour disruptions known to have occurred within the UKUSA community happened to GCHQ, which experienced a work slowdown in the winter of 1979-1980 and a one-day strike in 1981. These actions were cited as one of the reasons then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher decided in 1983 to ban unions at GCHQ, which led to a bitter dispute that continued until the decision was eventually reversed by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997.

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