Federal public servants to strike Wednesday if no deal reached, union says

Public Service Alliance of Canada leadership says all workers in a legal strike position will strike Wednesday if they don't reach an agreement by 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.

PSAC sets Tuesday night deadline for deal; government says 'good offer' on the table

PSAC president announces strike starting Wednesday if no deal reached

5 months ago
Duration 1:23
Public Service Alliance of Canada president Chris Aylward sets 9 p.m. on April 18 as the deadline for negotiations, otherwise he is ‘authorizing a national general strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET Wed., April 19, for all 155,000 PSAC members working for both the Canada Revenue Agency and Treasury Board.’

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) leadership says all workers in a legal strike position will strike Wednesday if they don't reach an agreement by 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Its bargaining groups — one of about 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers, the other of about 120,000 staff spread across more than 20 departments and agencies — each moved into legal strike positions last week after strike votes.

With essential workers factored out, PSAC said more than 100,000 workers could walk off the job across Canada, affecting a range of services.

National PSAC president Chris Aylward said in a Monday morning news conference that the union and the government have made "some progress" over the last two weeks but are still too far apart on key issues such as wages, job security and remote work.

He said it's setting the deadline because it's taking too long to reach a deal. These contracts expired in 2021.

The federal government has communicated, and did again in a Monday statement from the Treasury Board, it is seeking "agreements that are fair to public servants and reasonable for taxpayers."

"We have a good offer on the table, and there is enough common ground to reach consensus on renewed collective agreements for our employees," it said of its talks with that larger group of PSAC workers known as the Treasury Board unit.

Gov't says its raise is fair

PSAC's publicly stated focus has shifted. Lately, it's wanted to talk about rising wages because of the higher cost of living and says the government's offers have fallen short of its needs.

It wants a 4.5 per cent raise over three years for Treasury Board workers.

Aylward said the latest government offer to the Treasury Board unit was what was recommended by a labour board in February: 1.5 per cent in 2021, 4.5 per cent for 2022 and three per cent for 2023.

The government's statement called that labour board's recommendation, which it turned into an offer on Sunday, "fair and competitive."

WATCH | The prime minister's comments after the deadline announcement:

Trudeau hopes for resolution ahead of PSAC strike

5 months ago
Duration 1:14
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 'we're very hopeful that we're going to be able to resolve this' as PSAC workers get ready to strike later this week.

It also said it has made reasonable counter-proposals to other PSAC proposals and some of PSAC's "demands … would severely impact the Government's ability to deliver services to Canadians and would limit its ability to effectively manage employees within the public service."

It said PSAC's remote work positions are one example.

Asked Monday for an update on negotiations, Treasury Board president Mona Fortier gave little insight, saying the two sides are "currently negotiating."

WATCH | Fortier tight-lipped about PSAC negotiations:

Fortier tight-lipped about PSAC negotiations

5 months ago
Duration 0:18
Asked Monday for an update on negotiations between the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the federal government, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier gave little insight, saying the two sides are "currently negotiating."

PSAC CRA workers are scheduled for mediation this week. The Treasury Board group talked with the government last week and remains at the table, according to the union.

They can take job action anytime until early June and are not legally required to give notice.

Aylward said PSAC is committed to remaining at the table to reach a deal to avoid a strike. Any pickets Wednesday would be at "strategic" locations across the country to target the government and minimize impact on the public, he said.

Three union leaders give a news conference.
Public Service Alliance of Canada national president Chris Aylward, centre, gives a news conference in Ottawa on April 17, 2023. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

He called on the NDP to continue its support and for the government to avoid using back-to-work legislation.

Asked Monday afternoon by CBC whether the government has back-to-work legislation ready to go, Justice Minister David Lametti declined to comment.

With files from Chris Rands

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