Thousands of federal public servants across country begin strike

Thousands of federal public servants across country begin strike

Original article published on April 18th, 2023, via CBC News.

More than 155,000 federal public servants are on strike after the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) failed to reach a deal before a Tuesday evening deadline.

The announcement came after two bargaining groups representing a significant part of the government workforce entered a legal strike position last week.

The national PSAC president announced at a Tuesday evening news conference the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday.

Tax returns, passports

More than 120,000 employees under PSAC entered a legal strike position last Wednesday and about 39,000 more joined them last Friday, bringing the total number of federal public servants represented by PSAC with a strike mandate to more than 155,000.

The first group, labelled the Treasury Board group by PSAC, includes workers spread across nearly 30 departments and agencies.

The second group, represented by PSAC and its subcomponent, the Union of Taxation Employees, includes Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers.

Of those workers, about 47,000 are considered essential and, although in a legal strike position, will continue to report to work. The government defines an essential service as a service necessary for the safety or security of the public, or a segment of the public, at any time.

The CRA said in a Wednesday morning news release it's also made a fair, competitive offer. It said it will prioritize benefit payments with the capacity it has and repeated the Canada child benefit won't be affected.

"While there are no plans to extend tax filing deadlines, the CRA will continue to accept all tax returns. Those that are filed digitally, which represent the vast majority of T1 and T2 returns, will largely be processed automatically by our systems without delay," it said.

Workers and services involved

Negotiations between the federal government and PSAC's two groups each began in 2021. The union declared an impasse with each unit last year.

In January, PSAC announced strike votes for the Treasury Board group due to a disagreement with the department over proposed wage increases that are outstripped by the rate of inflation.

Strike votes for this group happened from Feb. 22 until April 11, while strike votes for the CRA group were held from Jan. 31 until April 6. 

The union didn't share how many members voted in favour, but has said the support was overwhelming.

PSAC leadership said Monday all workers in a legal strike position would strike Wednesday if the union didn't reach an agreement with the federal government by 9 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Aylward said last Wednesday most members make between $40,000 and $65,000 a year and are struggling with the high cost of living.

The union's last public wage proposal was 4.5 per cent for 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The Treasury Board last shared an offer to increase wages by nine per cent over three years, a total that mirrors the recommendations of the third-party Public Interest Commission.

The CRA said Wednesday it offered the same and the union countered with increases amounting to 22.5 per cent over three years. That would be down from its previous proposal of more than 30 per cent.

Original article by CBC News:

Thousands of federal public servants across country begin strike 

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