Federal government employee Suzanne Medges went months without getting paid and then had her pay deposited into her ex-husband’s account.

VICTORIA PROTEST: Phoenix fails to rise from the ashes for many federal employees

Stories of pay errors abound among city’s federal government workers

More than 100 federal employees and supporters gathered outside the federal offices on Government Street for a lunchtime protest over ongoing problems with Phoenix payroll system.

One of those employees was Suzanne Medges, a support clerk who previously worked for the federal government, resigned in 2011 then came back to her job in July 2016. She said it took more than three months to receive her first paycheque after returning to work.

“I didn’t get paid and, even though I was working full time, I had to take a second job because there was no money coming in,” she said before marching with coworkers to the legislature.

“Once I did get paid, they used old information and started depositing my pay into my ex-husband’s account, even though I had clearly informed them of my divorce and given them my new banking information. They also put him on my benefit plan.”

The Phoenix system, for which the contract was first awarded to IBM in 2014 by the Harper government, was plagued by problems from the outset. By May 2015, IBM was recommending a delay in the planned roll-out of the system. The recommendation fell on deaf ears and by that June, payroll staff at the central system headquarters in Miramachi, NB reported they could not keep up with complaints from people who were not getting paid, or getting paid the wrong amounts.

The problems have continued and, although no definite tallies are available, one Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) member estimated that more than 600,000 active complaints are still awaiting resolution.

This, despite the fact the system has already cost the federal government more than $900 million.

Victoria worker Bob Lacquement, who retired from the civil service last May, has still not received his severance pay and is thankful his pension isn’t administered by the Phoenix system.

“I’m lucky that I have a pension. If I’d been counting on my severance package, I’d be getting pretty hungry by now,” he said with a wry smile.

Mark Baxter, an electrical supervisor with the Department of National Defence, hasn’t seen the salary increase he earned through his promotion to the supervisory position.

“It’s been seven months and I’m still not getting the correct rate. Most of the people working for me are actually getting paid at a higher rate than I am. Worse still, the summer hires we had working have still not been paid at all,” he said.

This week’s federal budget announcement earmarked $16 million to start the process of creating a new system, with a view to eventually scrapping the Phoenix system.

All that does very little to help the hundreds of federal employees in Victoria who find themselves angry and frustrated at the government’s seeming inability to fix the problems now.

“You can have 12 people working in an office and for some reason two of them will not get paid while everyone else is fine. It’s just the luck of the draw and it’s enough to make you very distraught,” Medges said.

Victoria Labour Council president Mike Eso was at Wednesday afternoon’s protest and spoke to the crowd of federal employees, urging them not to lose heart and to continue to fight for wages they’ve earned.

It’s time, he said, for the federal government to take action.

editor@vicnews.com

 

DND employee Mark Baxter has not received his proper rate of pay for more than seven months. Tim Collins/Victoria News

Just Posted

Saanich set to crack down on overnight camping in parks

Local community leader says new measures promise to protect Cuthbert Holmes Park

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

Chronic disease no obstacle for ultra-cyclist

Cross-Canada ride raises funds for Crohn’s disease

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

New kitchen for Mustard Seed built by volunteers

Members of HeroWork spent nearly a month building a new processing kitchen in Esquimalt

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Saanich mayor says results of amalgamation referendum are not predictive

Mayor Richard Atwell warns against reading too much into the outcome of… Continue reading

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Most Read