Nearly 500 workers who provide support services on military bases across Ontario and Quebec will be on strike as of Monday, if an agreement cannot be reached with Non-Public Funds (NPF), a separate agency that forms part of the federal public service.
Strike action will impact workers on Canadian Forces bases in Bagotville, Kingston, Montreal St-Jean, Ottawa, Petawawa and Valcartier.
Staff of the Non-Public Funds hold jobs in retail and food services on military bases and provide financial planning and insurance for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families and operate community services such as physical fitness and recreation services.
“NPF workers play a pivotal role supporting Canadian military members and their families, but many of them barely make minimum wage and are working two jobs just to make ends meet,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) national president. “These workers deserve wages that are on par with the rest of the federal public service.”
Key demands at the table include fair wages, a national pay grid for all NPF workers across the country and better job security. Moving to a national pay grid would improve wages for NPF members at all military bases and better reflect pay equity.
“NPF workers are some of the lowest paid workers in the country, and earn far less than the rest of the federal public service,” said June Winger, Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) national president. “Workers are demanding respect, and the solution is clear, pay workers fair and decent wages across the country.”
Staff of the NPF workers are federal public service workers, but they do not work for Treasury Board or the Department of National Defence, and their wages and working conditions were unaffected by the PSAC’s national strike for 155,000 workers last spring.
“At NPF, we’re treated like second-class workers who get paid less to do the same work as our colleagues elsewhere in the public service,” said Cathy O’Kane, Vice-President for NPF with UNDE who has worked as an NPF employee for more than 30 years.
“It has taken me more than 30 years to reach the same pay as an entry-level casual worker at the Department of National Defence. I want to make things better for all NPF members, so that others don’t have to go through what I did."
The five bargaining units have separate contracts, but all of them expired in 2022. The contract in Ottawa expired the longest time ago, February 28 2022 and in Bagotville, Quebec, the most recently, November 30 2022.
Staff of the NPF deliver programs and services through Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFWMS) at military bases across Canada. NPF workers contribute to the operational readiness and effectiveness of the Canadian Forces.
NPF workers hold jobs in three main areas: retail and food service through CANEX, the Canadian Forces Exchange System, financial planning including life and disability insurance provision for Canadian Armed Forces members though SISIP financial, and mess staff and programming relating to community service, physical fitness, and recreation.
NPF employees are excluded from the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).