Canadian federal government tables new offer in PSAC negotiations

PSAC Strike. Image credit: Twitter page of Canadian Labour

Ottawa/CMEDIA: A new offer has been tabled by the federal government in negotiation with Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canada’s largest public sector union as workers strike for a 10th day.

Encompassing  the larger Treasury Board group of about 120,000 workers, details of the offer have not been released while talks with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) group of more than 35,000 workers are ongoing, the union was reported to say.

Calling the offer “comprehensive” on Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said that it is not clear whether the offer included a higher wage increase than the government’s previous offer of nine per cent over three years.

 PSAC confirmed in a statement that they received the offer but expected negotiations would continue into the weekend.

“We hope to continue bargaining this weekend in order to reach a fair deal for our 120,000 federal public service members,” the statement said. “Talks are also ongoing for our 35,000 members at Canada Revenue Agency.”

The statement said that PSAC would neither provide any details nor schedule any interviews until further notice.

Wages and remote work have been key sticking points between the government and the PSAC bargaining units representing 155,000 members who have been on strike since April 19 and has disrupted about 30 departments and affected a range of services, including processing of income tax returns and passports.

When PSAC’s national president Chris Aylward said Wednesday that the union had moved off its initial wage demand of a 13.5 percent increase over three years, and that the government should also make its own move, Fortier countered by saying PSAC’s demands were both unreasonable and unaffordable.

Aylward said the union wouldn’t compromise on wages for gains in other areas. As for remote work, PSAC wants specific rules laid out in a new deal.

Having not been in a contract for two years, PSAC’s main bargaining unit wanted the government’s current wage offer to be backdated to 2021, with a 1.5 percent increase that year, followed by 4.5 percent raise in 2022 and another of three percent in 2023.

In a tweet Friday morning, PSAC said it wants a raise that keeps up with inflation and insists the public sector hasn’t received a raise in line with inflation in more than 15 years.

Earlier this week when Aylward said he wanted Trudeau to get directly involved in the negotiations, Trudeau, who was in New York City this week for a trade trip, said Friday he is involved.

“I have been directly and intimately involved in the negotiations, in hearing about what discussions are going on,” he said, responding to a question from a reporter at a news conference.

“I have deep faith in collective bargaining as a process,” Trudeau said. “We know that our negotiators are putting forward serious offers.”

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