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

Video shows break-in at Saanich underground parking lot

Saanich Police are looking for two men caught on camera Monday night

Fog in Victoria affects at least four airlines

Oct. 23 is the fourth day in last week fog has cancelled flights

HarbourCats van ticketed at Braefoot Park

Braefoot association dinged $50 for parking baseball team’s van

Athlete who survived head-on collision offers GameChanger award for women

Victoria woman competed in an Ironman two years after doctors told her she wouldn’t walk

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Local businesses that go above and beyond honoured at annual gala

Better Business Bureau of Vancouver Island Torch Awards go Nov. 2 at the Union Club

UPDATE: Simultaneous shooting at ferry terminal “a first” for police watchdog

Suspect shot by police in Nanaimo as he was in the act of taking his own life

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

It’s been two weeks since the Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Prince George on Oct. 9, sparking a large fireball

Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

Biggest myth: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real

2 Canadians advance to finals at world wrestling championships

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe just missed joining them with a loss 3-1 to three-time world champion Adeline Gray of the United States in the 76-kg event

Most Read