CRA still on strike. Controversy over the deal with PSAC

TORONTO – The vast majority of PSAC federal civil servants have returned to work, but for some 35,000 unionized employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the mobilization continues: even today, workers remained on pickets (in the pic above, from Twitter – @Pattycoates), having not yet reached an agreement to the contract. The strike is leading to delays in processing tax and benefit returns, especially those submitted in paper format, as well as increased wait times at contact centres. 

According to the PSAC, the sides negotiated “all day” and “late into the night” on Monday and talks resumed on Tuesday morning, but no agreement was reached. On Tuesday, Jérémy Collard, press secretary for Federal Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, who oversees the CRA, confirmed that inter-party negotiations have resumed between the two sides, but declined to provide further details. “We recognize the important role CRA employees play in providing services to Canadian taxpayers from coast to coast” Collard said. “The CRA is, however, an independent agency; therefore, we will not comment on ongoing negotiations”.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Treasury Board chair Mona Fortier said she was not involved in negotiations with CRA workers but hinted at the possibility of a deal. “They are working very hard” she said.

The union, for its part, said on Monday that the two sides had resolved some issues related to working hours and communications, but key questions of wages, remote working and protections against the Job procurement. The CRA last offered wage increases of 9% over three years, well below the union’s 22.5% request.

The deal reached between the Treasury Board and the PSAC, which is great for the union, may be affecting ongoing negotiations, but the union said on Tuesday that leadership would not provide further details or speak to the media. “Our requests are reasonable – the trade unionists simply said – and, together, we will obtain real gains for our members”.

Meanwhile, the agreement reached between the federal government and the more than 120,000 public employees of the PSAC continues to be discussed: an agreement that, including salary increases and various benefits, will cost taxpayers 1.3 billion dollars a year, plus others $448 million in one-time bonuses, according to the Treasury Board.

The agreement reached after almost two years of bargaining and twelve days of strike covers a four-year period starting in June 2021 and provides for compound pay increases of 12.6% for the duration of the agreement, as well as other benefits. In addition to the salary increase, civil servants will receive a $2,500 signing bonus once the contract is ratified that also counts towards their retirement, and the latter will cost the federal government $448 million. A bloodletting that adds to the bloodletting, according to some experts, while others talked about a “domino effect” due to the success of PSAC’s dispute, as we wrote in yesterday’s article. Obviously, the strike worked.