Vast majority of non-essential workers took part in strike action, government figures say
Average of 71,000 core public administration workers were off the job in strike's 1st week
More than 90 per cent of non-essential workers in the largest group of striking Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) workers took strike action during the first week of the labour stoppage, according to new government figures.
An average of 71,000 employees from the core public administration group of 120,000 workers were off the job, according to figures released by the Treasury Board.
When the 46,000 employees who are deemed essential and obligated to work are accounted for, the vast majority of public servants (about 96 per cent) eligible to strike did so.
In a statement, the Treasury Board warns that data collection may vary by organization and is continuing to be refined. It said that staff on vacation or leave are not counted among the workers who withdrew their labour.
The rest of the staff are workers who have been deemed essential, have chosen to work, or are on leave for other reasons.
The federal government released the number of employees reported to have withdrawn their services broken down by day:
- Wednesday, April 19: 55,272.
- Thursday, April 20: 75,767.
- Friday, April 21: 67,467.
- Monday, April 24: 77,720.
- Tuesday, April 25: 74,715.
- Wednesday, April 26: 77,483.
Those figures represent members of the core public administration group, a combined group of four bargaining units representing 120,000 administrative, technical, library and operational staff. They exclude the 39,000 striking workers at the Canada Revenue Agency.
PSAC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Effect on economy unclear, minister says
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said there's no clear figure for how much the nine-day strike — one of the largest in Canadian history — is affecting the country's economy.
She said the government's priority is reaching a deal.
"I know Canadians and public servants are feeling the impact of the strike. We respect the strike, but we have to find a way to find resolution," she said.
The union, which pledged to increase pressure tactics at the beginning of the strike's second week, took credit for more than 25 "escalation points" across the country where workers slowed traffic, limited access to critical infrastructure such as ports and blocked access to federal buildings.
On Wednesday, PSAC said that negotiations stalled after an impasse on the subject of wages.
PSAC was initially demanding a 13.5 per cent wage increase over three years for the members of the core public administration group, arguing that such an increase was necessary to keep pace with inflation.
PSAC national president Chris Aylward said on CBC's Power & Politics on Wednesday that the union has lowered its demand twice, but would not say by how much.
The Treasury Board countered with a nine per cent offer over three years last week, citing an independent recommendation from the Public Interest Commission.
Aylward said the union would not accept that offer.
Negotiations are set to continue into Friday.