Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
March 5, 2008

Committee plans improved coordination for nationally managed operations

CEIU’s CIC Advisory Committee meets

While not the only issue on the table for the union’s CIC Advisory Committee, nationally managed operations emerged as a leading topic at its recent meeting. Committee members also tackled staff shortages, workload pressures and safety issues.

In her opening remarks at the February 23-24 meeting, National President Jeannette Meunier-McKay recalled that immigration members had always played an important role in the life of CEIU starting with the actual formation of CEIU in 1977. “Most immigration members from 1977 have since retired, but they left a legacy of strong leadership within our organization that all of us are responsible for carrying forward.”

Jeannette Meunier-McKay introduced Paul Croes as the new National Vice-President for CIC. He replaces the recently retired Terry Boss who Meunier-McKay praised for the energy and positive outlook he always brought to his work at CEIU.

Croes led off on the issue of nationally managed operations. “Call centres and processing centres are managed centrally and we need an effective plan for organizing our members. Management has replaced the old local-regional-national structure and we need to respond.” Part of that response will come from enhanced communication between the committee and CIC members. Members can reach the committee at or through the contact information available on the national website. The committee also looked to using discussion boards as well as the development of a social networking capability at the national website. Improved communications will be on the agenda of the CIC National Conference to be held in the fall of 2008. More information on the conference will be available in the months ahead.

The advisory committee has members from Atlantic Canada, Sydney, Quebec, Headquarters, Ontario, the Prairies, Vegreville and British Columbia. While no two offices had identical issues, many had common concerns. A staff shortage was one, and closely related was that of workload pressure. For many staff, this has increased workplace stress with little concern shown by management for the situation. The use of contract employees to handle files such as those involving entrepreneur applications is not an adequate response. The common view was that more well-trained, full-time staff were needed and not more contracting-out of members’ work. (The recent federal budget that included additional resources for the temporary foreign worker program is not expected to have a significant impact on the working conditions of CEIU members.)

At offices that remain co-located with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers, a safety concern has arisen. Many of the officers are now armed and must bring individuals in custody, some dangerous, through the CIC offices. The potential for confrontations involving firearms has, justifiably, raised apprehension among CEIU members. Advisory Committee members will be exploring an approach to Labour Canada for an assessment of the risk faced in offices co-located with the CBSA.

Committee members also raised the question of classification. Jeannette informed the committee that the campaign for fair classification is proceeding with the assistance of Elizabeth Millar, the former PSAC classification head, and that the union is exploring with CIC a review of the CR positions that were left out of review conducted a few years ago.

There were thanks all-round at the end of the weekend meeting. The agenda was heavy but all participants appreciated the planning that emerged.

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