Canada, the “feds” do not give up: pickets indefinitely

TORONTO – More than 155,000 federal civil servants have returned to “picket lines” in various Canadian cities after weekend contract talks failed to produce a deal to end one of the largest strikes in Canadian history. 

Today was the sixth day of the strike by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) working on the Treasury Board and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), which is affecting several government services including passports, immigration applications and tax returns.

As of today, PSAC pickets have appeared in front of various federal buildings in different parts of the country: and the Canadian Press reported that the union intends to intensify the strike by moving the pickets to strategic places such as ports.

Union and Treasury Board negotiators returned to the negotiating table over the weekend as the two sides pointed fingers at each other over poor communication and the slow pace of negotiations. “I hope we will be able to get an agreement” PSAC national chairman Chris Aylward told CTV on Sunday. “I’m still hopeful that a deal is achievable and that we will get our members back to work. We are separated on a couple of key issues, but we will continue to work through it”. Aylward said the main issues in the negotiations are wages, hybrid work arrangements and job security in relation to the layoffs. In a letter to union members sent Sunday evening, Aylward reported “some progress, but we’re not there yet. I can report that at the table we’ve made progress on remote working and both sides have moved to move closer to a resolution on the raises” Aylward wrote. “We’re not there yet, but I know we can reach a fair deal for all 155,000 PSAC members thanks to the strong strike mandate they’ve handed us and the incredible solidarity we’ve been shown from coast to coast”.

As well known, the PSAC has asked for a 4.5% hike each year over the new three-year contract, while the Treasury Board has offered a 9% hike over three years. It is difficult to reach a compromise on this point.

On Saturday, Aylward had invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join the talks, but Treasury Board chair Mona Fortier responded with a statement on Twitter, saying the union was “unreachable” when the government tried to meet on Friday to present with a revised contract proposal. Aylward confirmed to the Canadian Press that the next day, Saturday, the government sent a revised contract proposal and the union responded the same day. Then on Sunday, Aylward told CTV that the federal government needs to start taking the negotiations “seriously”. “That’s why it’s called negotiation, there have to be compromises, obviously, on both sides and we’re seeing that” Aylward said. “I keep hoping that an agreement can be reached, but the government needs to come back to the table, certainly, with a mandate in line with what we are looking for, especially on wages and trying to ensure that our members can remain in somewhat in line with the rate of inflation”.

In short, a continuous rebound between the union and the government. In between, citizens who find themselves without the public services they need and for which they pay taxes.

In the pic above, PSAC leader Chris Aylward with some of the protesters (photo from