CRA, now there is an agreement: strike over

TORONTO – The strike at the Canada Revenue Agency has also ended: a (provisional) agreement has been reached with the federal government for the 35,000 workers in the revenue sector. The announcement came after the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) reached separate agreements that ended the strike by more than 120,000 federal civil servants. 

The employees of the CRA, represented by the Union of Fiscal Workers of the PSAC, were still on strike two days after the expiry of the federal tax returns: a fact that caused many inconveniences to the taxpayers. But this was not the reason for reaching the agreement, but – probably – the “threat” of a union demonstration in Ottawa, on the occasion of the Liberal Party Convention: a “warning”, that of the union, which evidently convinced the federal government to accelerate the negotiations to reach a conclusion.

The agreement is similar to what has already been reached for other federal public employees: salary increases totaling 12.6% (the initial request was more than 20%) for the duration of the agreement from 2021 to 2024, as well as an additional fourth year to protect workers from inflation. There is also a one-time lump sum payment of $2,500 which is an additional 3.6% of salary.

“After more than a year and a half of negotiations that led to one of the largest strikes in Canadian history, the PSAC-UTE bargaining team has reached an interim agreement for Canada’s more than 35,000 workers of the Revenue Agency providing essential services to Canadians. With the strike now over, members of the PSAC-UTE are required to return to work on May 4 by 11.30am at the latest”, union says in a note. Since today, therefore, the workers of the CRA have returned to their offices.

“In this provisional agreement – continues the union – the PSAC-UTE has secured a fair contract for its members, which exceeds the original offer of the employer before the start of the strike action and provides for wage increases higher than those negotiated by other federal bargaining agents. It also provides significant new protections against layoffs, as well as improvements to working hours, telecommuting, and seniority”.

Additionally, “PSAC members will now be better protected from arbitrary remote work decisions. Managers will need to evaluate remote work requests individually, not by group, and will need to provide written responses that will allow members and the PSAC to deem the employer responsible for fair decision-making on remote work. Reviewing all remote work applications on an individual basis will prevent future ‘collective ordinances’ as announced by the federal government in December last year. This means that the rights of employees regarding remote working arrangements will be protected through a grievance process and grievances that are not resolved before the final stage may be referred to a new union-management joint committee to address issues in relation to enforcement by the employer of the Remote Working Directive and to make recommendations to HR managers”.

Also envisaged, among other things, is the implementation of safety and inclusiveness in the workplace and protection from any outsourcing of services. Also in this case, therefore, a victory for the union on (almost) all fronts.

In the pic above, one of the union’s protests (photo from Twitter -@usje_sesj)