CBS warns of coming job losses at national meeting with union representatives

Union representatives tell senior CBS executives that their organization is inconsistent in the way it handles labour relations, creating frustrations among staff and inefficiencies for the employer.

Toronto (07 Nov. 2012) - Canadian Blood Services (CBS) says the organization of the future is going to require fewer people. Caught in a funding squeeze by their provincial funders, CBS says they "have to compete with other health priorities and money is getting tighter and tighter."

“The focus is not on cost cutting, but on process improvement,” says Andrew Pateman, Vice-President of Talent Management and Corporate Strategy for CBS.

He was speaking at a meeting last week in Toronto sponsored by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and its Ontario Component, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). The meeting was attended by some 30 local union activists from NUPGE Components and Locals of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing more than 4,000 CBS workers from across the country.

But funding wasn't the only issue addressed at the national meeting.


In his 18 months with the organization, Pateman says he has conducted two employee surveys, the results of the second being calculated now. He said he wasn’t surprised that staff felt that “management was not leading in the way they should.”

Both Pateman and Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford acknowledged they had work to do in better communicating with staff, including involving frontline workers in the decision-making process. Mumford had specifically asked to address the meeting organized by NUPGE.

Union representatives told the senior CBS executives that their organization was inconsistent in the way it handled labour relations, creating frustrations among staff and inefficiencies for the employer. Over the two day meeting union members talked about having to go through the grievance process again for issues that had been already resolved at arbitration, or simply dealing with a revolving door of managers who interpreted the collective agreement differently than their predecessors.

Steve Saysell, an experienced negotiator with OPSEU/NUPGE, said the union had offered labour relations training to both sides so that there would be an understanding of what the rules were, but the offer had been rebuffed. OPSEU/NUPGE also advocated for provincial labour-management committees to resolve issues rather than rely entirely on the grievance process.

“What I’m hearing (today) is that in many areas our practice of labour relations lacks maturity,” said Pateman. “We’re behind the curve – our practices are not sophisticated enough.”

Mumford said he wasn’t going to apologize for focusing on financial challenges, but that didn’t mean financial considerations were more important than quality or the need to focus on people or the needs of CBS customers.

Mumford said they recognized the large part-time workforce was an issue. He said he’d like to find a model that would be at the very least more predictable and provide a more sustainable living for staff.

Mumford said that he wants to see a renewed focus on the quality process, changing the corporate culture to allow people to speak up when they see something they feel isn’t right.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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