Tony Clement's 'mandatory review' plan really 'downsizing by another name.'
by Gary Corbett, President, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
The announcement last month by Treasury board president Tony Clement that the government would be introducing mandatory performance reviews has raised suspicions that there is an ulterior motive behind them.
Of course, mandatory performance reviews are exactly what professionals in the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (the union I represent) want and expect to receive. Feedback, negative and positive, is essential if one hopes to grow in any profession. However, "there is simply no way that virtually every single person that the federal government hires is going to perform to the standard we expect," remarked Clement, referencing rates of dismissal in the private sector of between five and 10 percent.
Clement’s announcement left the unmistakable impression that “mandatory performance reviews” are downsizing by another name — a sort of permanent quota reduction system tied to private-sector rates of dismissal.
After all, it's not as if managers have been deprived of the opportunity to manage employee performance before now. And as long as managers perform their functions, unions will continue to perform theirs. That's the way the system is supposed to work, with reference to labour and human rights laws as the occasion warrants.
This spring, Canadians were astonished to learn that the former head of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal — the federal authority responsible for investigating allegations of discrimination — was fired for "gross mismanagement".
The report filed by the public integrity commissioner, following a two-year investigation prompted by a union complaint, found that the Conservative government appointee "repeatedly harassed employees at all levels by referring to them in derogatory terms, by questioning their competencies in the presence of their colleagues and by spreading misinformation about them in the workplace."
So there is something else in the air, and both public and private unions know it. Where once the public sector set the standard for resolving many labour relations issues, now the private sector — with its higher rates of dismissal and lower rates of unionised workers — is held up as the example to follow. That this is happening at the same time some conservatives federally and provincially are noisily advocating for US-style right-to-work laws and a roll-back of legislated provisions, to ensure all who benefit from collective bargaining pay their fair share of dues, is no coincidence.
Mandatory performance reviews, while good and necessary in principle, are only the latest tool for a scandal-plagued conservative government determined to divert attention elsewhere, advance its smaller-government agenda, and reduce the influence of unions. They misuse them at the risk of provoking larger disputes in the future.
Gary Corbett is president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada.© Copyright 2013 Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca
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