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OPSEU fights back against employer tactics around the layoffs

To: All OPSEU members in the Ontario Public Service

From: Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

Roxanne Barnes
Chair, OPSEU Central Contract Enforcement and Renewal Committee

Subject: More layoffs in the Ontario Public Service

Today in workplaces across the province, 231 OPSEU members were called into meetings with
their managers and union stewards and told what must be the worse news you can get on the

They were told their positions are being eliminated and they are being laid off. They received a
pre-notice of surplus today and will get a surplus notice on December 2. These 231 OPSEU
members are in addition to the 417 OPSEU members who received surplus notices earlier this

Has the work these members have been doing on behalf of the people of Ontario suddenly
disappeared? Has the need for the services they provide dried up?

The answer is an emphatic no. The ministries are cutting positions in order to meet an arbitrary
government target to reduce the OPS by five per cent by next March and seven per cent by

There is no credible rationale as to why 3,400 jobs should be cut by next March and another
1,500 jobs eliminated by March, 2014.

Not that we trust their numbers.

The employer won’t tell us how many jobs have been cut from non-OPSEU groups in the OPS.
We think OPSEU members are taking the majority of job cuts even though our numbers have
shrunk by over 20,000 in the past 15 years. Meanwhile, the number of middle managers and
policy people, (represented by AMAPCEO), has increased by 140 per cent.

Not only that, the employer has told us they don’t even know whether they’ve met their five per
cent target because they’ve added 2,000 positions to the OPS in the meantime. The employer
implies there could be more layoffs to offset the positions they added. This is outrageous.

On the one hand, the employer has laid off 25-year employees, many of them in the office
administration category. And on the other hand, they’ve hired managers, policy people, and
executives who earn two to three times what our members make!

So, how exactly, is the government saving any money here? And why is all the sacrifice
expected to come from front-line employees and employees supporting the front line, many of
them lower-paid, female-dominated positions?

We see no evidence from this employer that the pain is being shared.

The employer also won’t tell us how many vacant positions have been cut. This is obviously
important information to have. Slashing vacancies means that surplused employees have fewer
jobs to redeploy into.

It’s also important to know because the government is cutting vacant positions at a time when
600,000 Ontarians are looking for work.

The employer’s arbitrary, disrespectful and secretive approach to the layoffs does not end there.
The employer is treating members who have received surplus notices and opted to stay in the
OPS shamefully. The employer is refusing to uphold our members’ job security rights unless
forced to through the filing of grievances. The employer is not matching our members to
permanent vacancies or temporary assignments as required by Article 20 of your collective

Your union is fighting back.

  1. Every one of the 231 pre-surplus notices handed out today will be grieved. Our staff
    representatives will work with LECs and surplussed members to ensure individual
    grievances are filed, grieving improper surplusing. Your staff representative has the sample
    grievance language.

  2. We have advised our Local Presidents, and we advise all surplused members, to file
    grievances when:

    1. you are not assigned to a permanent vacancy, as per Article 20.3;

    2. you are not assigned to a temporary vacancy, as per Article. 20.8; and

    3. you have not been assigned a displacement opportunity, as per Article 20.4.

Again, your staff representative has the sample grievance language. We advise members to
strictly follow grievance timelines and to ensure all communication with the employer about
the grievances is in writing.

  1. Obviously, our preference is for surplused members to redeploy into vacant positions. We
    know that ministries hide vacancies from the Ministry of Government Services, Centre for
    Employee Services, particularly those with a duration of less than six months. We ask that
    you report vacant positions in the OPSEU bargaining unit to your Ministry Enforcement and
    Renewal Committee.

The good news is that when members file grievances, the employer usually acts quickly to
redress the situation.

OPSEU will continue to publicly fight these and any additional OPS job cuts. Our message is
simple, and clear – Cuts Hurt Us All. We will expose to the public that every OPS job cut will
result in service loss, either through a direct front-line service job or jobs that support front-line

The McGuinty government believes they can keep the public in the dark until services are either
gone or severely impacted. With your help, we will show Ontarians the value of the vital services
you provide, and why they can’t afford to lose them.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas

Roxanne Barnes
CERC Chair

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