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Public sector union to take muzzled science issue to bargaining table

The union representing government scientists, engineers and professionals says its next contract demands will include an integrity policy to free up muzzled researchers and promote evidence-based policy making.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents 55,000 federal employees, says a scientific-integrity policy is needed to ensure innovation and to protect public health, safety and the environment.

The union, known by its acronym PIPSC, says it will seek enforceable standards for international collaboration among scientists, preservation of government science libraries, reinvestment in research programs and the right for federal scientists to speak.

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"It's sad, frankly, that it's come to this," PIPSC president Debi Daviau said in a release.

"But negotiating provisions in our collective agreements seems to be the only way to get this government's attention and adopt meaningful, enforceable scientific integrity standards."

A spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Tony Clement wouldn't comment on the state of negotiations, but her response pointedly focused on bargaining issues related to remuneration.

"The government's over-arching goal in these negotiations is to reach agreements on total public service compensation that are fair and reasonable to both employees and to taxpayers," Stephanie Rea said in an email.

"The government will continue to respect bargaining agents and the process by not negotiating through the press."

It's the latest move against the Conservative government by a public sector union that traditionally has avoided any hint of campaigns that could be considered political.

Last month, the Professional Institute announced it will actively advertise the damage it believes the Harper government has done to federal public services.

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