They stood in solidarity in cities from coast to coast, including Moncton and Halifax, where Public Service Alliance of Canada members rallied to share their frustration over the troubled Phoenix pay system.
Many of the union employees say they have been or know someone affected by the federal government’s payroll system that was rolled out about two years ago.
“I went 1.3 months without a pay cheque at all, I’ve got over payment situations, I’ve got under payment situations and I don’t know what’s owed to me and what I owe the government,” explained Kirby Dawson, a contracts officer with the Department of National Defense in Halifax.
According to PSAC, which has launched a “Burnt by Phoenix” advocacy campaign, there are approximately 200,000 union members who have been affected by the troubled pay system.
“They have set up problems in priorities,” says Isabelle Forest, explaining the system in place to rectify issues faced by public servants who have been paid late or incorrectly. “My priority is three, I’ve been in priority three for probably close to a year now,” adds Forest, the President of PSAC’s Greater Moncton Area Council.
WATCH: Feds promise to replace disastrous Phoenix payroll system
But relief may be on the horizon. On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals announced plans to “eventually move away” from using Phoenix and “explore other systems” that could replace it. However, it’s not an overnight solution as the 2018 budget allocates $16 million over two years to research a new pay system.
WATCH: Trudeau says Phoenix Pay system debacle the fault of Harper government
But the Phoenix could still rise, renewed from its ashes as another budget line shows intentions to invest more than $430 million over the next six years to try and fix the existing system.
“Six more years that’s going to be eight years that we’re dealing with problems. That’s not acceptable,” said Forest.
Union workers applaud the idea to some extent but have lost faith in the federal government’s ability to rectify the file, explains Colleen Coffey, the regional executive vice-president of PSAC’s Atlantic Region.
“We need our members to be paid accurately and on time now which means they need to continue to fix Phoenix,” said Coffey at a noon-hour rally in Halifax.
The next concern on the unions growing list is tax season, as many of employees affected by Phoenix have T4s that aren’t reflective of what they actually made.