Public Sector Employers' Council (PSEC) and the mandate

Whenever collective bargaining begins, there are usually questions about who "PSEC" is. You will hear differing views about its role in our bargaining process.

You may also hear that our unions bargain with the employer and that PSEC is not an important consideration. We hope to give you some helpful background and answer some key questions.

About PSEC

PSEC is a council created by a statute—the Public Sector Employers Act. The legislation – enacted in 1993 -  flowed from the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service and Public Sector (PDF) which sought to improve coordination and accountability for compensation matters, collective bargaining and human resource management. 

The Minister of Finance is responsible for the Act and is the Chair to the Public Sector Employers' Council. Members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and composed primarily of government ministers or deputy ministers, and representatives of employers' associations.

The same statute also created public sector employers’ associations, one of which is the University Public Sector Employers' Association (UPSEA). UPSEA is the research universities' employers' association and is represented on the Council, along with the other six designated public sectors.

UVic is a member of UPSEA. The Public Sector Employers’ Council Secretariat (PSEC Secretariat) carries out the direction of the Council.

The PSEC Secretariat

The PSEC Secretariat reports directly to the Minister of Finance in carrying out a number of its statutory functions such as responsibility for strategic coordination of labour relations, total compensation planning and human resource management for the broader provincial public sector.

It also represents the B.C. government in its role as a partner in public sector pension plans. The Act also requires public sector employers to provide the PSEC Secretariat with all copies of employment contracts for excluded management or non-union employees so that it can monitor compliance with compensation standards. The statute also defines "public sector employers" to include universities.

The PSEC Secretariat’s primary role is to facilitate the Province’s public sector bargaining mandate and to provide direction to employers on non-union compensation. Bargaining mandates set out the fixed fiscal envelope from which employers or employers’ associations negotiate with respective unions. But the mandate is not limited to that, as the statute covers the much broader matter of "strategic directions" in labour relations.

All public sector employers are covered by this collective bargaining mandate and, as such, all are required to have their bargaining plans approved by the PSEC Secretariat before making offers to their employee groups.

After a tentative agreement is reached, the PSEC Secretariat must approve the agreement. In part, the PSEC Secretariat’s function is to create consistency in policy and cost across organizations that are largely financed by government, which is ultimately accountable to the taxpayers.

2022 Shared Recovery Mandate

In the 2022 round of bargaining of its collective agreements, the university will be negotiating under the provincial 2022 "Shared Recovery Mandate."

Elements of the 2022 mandate include:

  • three-year term
  • general wage increases
    • year 1 – a flat increase of $0.25/hour which provides a greater percentage increase for lower paid employees, plus 3.24%
    • year 2 – 5.5% plus a potential cost of living adjustment to a maximum of 6.75%
    • year 3 – 2% plus a potential cost of living adjustment to a maximum of 3%
  • a negotiable flexibility allocation of up to 0.25% in years 1 and 2 to support mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties.

Variations to the mandate

In most years, the PSEC mandate allows some room for variations among bargaining groups, but the variations must be approved by the PSEC Secretariat and fit within the terms of the overall mandate.

For example, with respect to the cost of agreements, "net zero" trade-offs are sometimes allowed. That means if a union wants a new benefit that costs $100,000, it must find some part of the collective agreement to change that will create $100,000 in operational savings or spend $100,000 of the available mandate (meaning it would accept a slightly lower wage increase to gain the more important benefit).

When you read a summary of a settlement with one bargaining group, it can be difficult to understand the negotiated deal. Apparent differences with the provincial mandate may only be understood if you review detailed terms of the agreement.

More information