“Feds”, there is an agreement: the strike is over (but not for CRA)

TORONTO – In many countries of the world, today – May 1st – was the Day of Workers. Not in Canada, where it falls on the first Monday in September (Labour Day). But, ironically, an agreement was reached just today between the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) – whose over 120,000 workers had been on strike since last April 19 – and the Treasury Board. However, the 35,000 employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) remain on strike: unlike other federal civil servants, CRA’s workers have not yet reached an agreement with the government.

The deal with PSAC comes after Treasury Board chair Mona Fortier tabled over the weekend what she called a “final” offer: a 12.6% pay hike over four years, retroactive to 2021 , so much more than the 9% in three years that the government had left on the negotiating table for most of the strike, but (slightly) lower than the 13.5% request with which the PSAC had presented itself to the negotiating table.

The Treasury Board said it will also offer these workers a “group specific allowance of 0.5%” in the third year of the deal, as well as a one-time payment of $2,500″.

“These agreements address all the key priorities put forward by the PSAC. They also include improved provisions, for example on paid family responsibility leave. They also include measures to further support employment equity, diversity and inclusion, as a new benefit for indigenous employees who will now have access to paid leave to participate in traditional practices”.

Regarding remote working, the federal government says it remains committed to a hybrid model that will see civil servants come into the office at least a few times a week, but outside of collective agreements they have “reached a tentative agreement on teleworking which satisfies both parties”.

Saying she was “pleased” to have achieved this result, Mona Fortier added that she appreciated the patience of Canadians over the past two weeks as workers exercised their right to strike. And she also said: “We are deeply grateful to the hard-working federal civil servants across the country to serve Canadians and look forward to welcoming them back. These deals are fair, competitive and reasonable and bring stability to civil servants and to Canadians”.

PSAC has in turn confirmed that the agreement has been reached after almost two years of negotiations which culminated in the strike. And the union said the deal “ensured a fair contract for members that exceeds the employers’ original offer” and “significant new protections for remote working”.

“During a time of record inflation and soaring corporate profits, workers were told to accept less, but our members came together and fought for the best” PSAC national chairman Chris Aylward said in a statement, today. “This deal offers major gains for our members that will set the bar for all workers in Canada”.

So the strike ends: federal civil servants will return to work starting at 9 tomorrow or from the next scheduled shift. The position of the CRA workers remains at stake: for them, the strike continues.

In the pic above, a protest of CRA’s workers this morning: for them the fight goes on (photo from Twitter – @SharonDPSAC)