Hill fashion assertion: House of Commons officers ramp up job protest with denims, lime green hats – Ottawa Sun

Former Ottawa police chief-turned-senator Vern White is condemning a job motion by House of Commons safety officers as inappropriate and probably unsafe.

The officers, nevertheless, insist their fashion assertion — carrying lime green hats and denims whereas on the job — is the one approach they will carry consideration to their issues and their requires extra respect.

The House of Commons officers, who're half of the Parliamentary Protecting Service, have been with out a contract since March and have an inventory of grievances that vary from wage to well being and security issues however are additionally rooted in displeasure that the RCMP is the lead company overseeing safety on Parliament Hill.

The job motion began about 4 weeks in the past once they began carrying PPS baseball caps, however every successive week employees have upped the ante. They switched to the lime green baseball caps, then put stickers throughout their physique armour that say “We deserve RESPECT,” written in each English and French. Final week, the uniform pants had been changed by blue denims.

“That’s the one approach that we are able to ship a message,” mentioned Roch Lapensée, president of the Safety Providers Worker Affiliation and a House of Commons safety officer.

Every successive motion has adopted an unanimous vote by the affiliation’s 240 members, Lapensée mentioned.

“The employer is fairly sturdy on their stand that they won't negotiate a brand new collective settlement, and we consider it's their obligation and it’s a Constitutional proper for them to take a seat down and negotiate a collective settlement.”

In the meantime White, a Conservative Senator and former metropolis police chief, who's co-chair of the Parliament Hill safety committee, mentioned he believes the actions taken by the union usually are not solely disrespectful however trigger confusion he fears might put public security in danger.

“I’m unsure that a person working round in a lime green baseball cap and blue denims working down the Hill with a gun of their hand will probably be recognized by the general public as a police officer,” mentioned White. “Is the subsequent factor we see quick-shorts on Canada Day? It’s getting out of management and it must be introduced again into management.”

White has a historical past of opposing such police protests. A decade in the past, he refused to permit on-obligation Gatineau police officers who had changed their uniform pants with denims or camouflage into Ottawa whereas they protested stalled contract talks.

Contract bargaining is “not a public security problem,” White mentioned. “They're making it a public security problem.”

“Doubtlessly there will probably be a misunderstanding from the general public about what they characterize and who they characterize. I've to say a lime green baseball hat that claims ‘respect’ is disrespectful,” he mentioned.

“Disrespectful to the uniform, disrespectful to the group they work for and disrespectful to the general public that they serve, and I don’t admire it,” mentioned White. “If they don't seem to be going to put on their uniform, then they most likely shouldn’t be on the Hill proper now.”

Lapensée mentioned security isn’t being compromised and that his members don't have any different means to protest.

“We're not compromising security and safety, to not members of Parliament, to not the general public, and much more, what we're probably the most involved about is our members. We might by no means put our members in that sort of place,” he mentioned. “We can't strike on the Hill. That is the one approach for us to ship a message to Parliamentarians, to all political events … we’re having points right here.”

Lapensée mentioned officers are attempting to tell MPs of the results of Invoice C-59, which created the Parliamentary Protecting Service in June 2015 and put it underneath command of the RCMP. The affiliation desires an modification that will require the director of the PPS to be impartial and reply on to the speaker of the Senate and the House of Commons.

“It takes political will to suggest an modification, vote for it, make it go,” Lapensée mentioned.

Presently it's only House of Commons officers who're collaborating within the job motion. Officers for the Senate and the Hill’s detection specialists, who scan guests, are represented by different unions. The RCMP have been collaborating in a extra refined protest over their ongoing efforts to unionize by substituting their uniform pants with yellow stripes for darkish blue cargo pants.

Melissa Rusk, govt officer and spokeswoman for the Parliamentary Protecting Service, mentioned the service is attempting to stability the rights of the officers to specific their discontent, whereas sustaining the protection and safety of the House of Commons.

“As lengthy there aren't any operational or officer security issues, PPS is conscious of respecting the rights of their staff to reveal in a fashion that's respectful,” she mentioned. “Operationally, they're all nonetheless performing their duties. If it was impacting operations or their capability to carry out the features they're required to carry out, then administration would render a choice.”

Rusk mentioned the PPS acquired a authorized opinion that suggested towards negotiating a collective settlement whereas awaiting a choice from the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board. The board continues to be contemplating a November 2015 software by the PPS to mix the three present bargaining items representing PPS officers into one.

It was a legislative modification that put the RCMP as operational lead.

“We will’t change that, and we’re not unwilling to work with the workers to handle their issues, however there are particular parts which might be exterior of our management,” Rusk mentioned.

New Democrat MP Hélène Laverdière mentioned her celebration helps the employees’ calls for.

“Day by day, the officers of the parliamentary protecting service guarantee the protection of members and guests with a smile, whereas being neutral and really skilled,” Laverdière mentioned within the House of Commons.

“These officers deserve the respect of the House and this authorities of their work and of their negotiations.”

Lapensée, in the meantime, was imprecise when requested what the safety officers have deliberate for Canada Day, which is shortly approaching with expectations of bigger than normal crowds for Canada 150 celebrations.

Lapensée would solely say he hopes the matter is resolved earlier than then.

“We’re able to go so far as we are able to,” he mentioned. “I can't discuss what we've deliberate for the subsequent three weeks.”

aseymour@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/andrew_seymour 

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