There is no light at the end of the tunnel for the federal government’s catastrophically failed new payroll system, Canada’s big public-service unions say, and they want a $75-million fund to help fix the mess.

It’ll be a minimum of six months before Phoenix is working properly, said Debi Daviau, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service, in a Parliament Hill news conference Thursday. But that’s being optimistic because she’s seen no detailed plan for actually achieving it.

“They are making some progress,” said Daviau. “What we’re not seeing is an expedited resolution to the ongoing pay issues of our members.”

“It’s not going to be weeks or months,” agreed Chris Aylward, a vice-president of the mammoth Public Service Alliance of Canada. There’s no sign that Phoenix has reached a “steady state.”

To help get there, they said, the next federal budget should include that $75-million fund that departments could draw on to hire more human-resources staff to fix individual messes, add and train information-technology staff to build Phoenix-related expertise within the public service, and help current staff who’ve been working overtime outside their usual duties to deal with a constant state of emergency, and suffering payroll problems themselves.

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