PSAC strike - Agreement reached, but not for CRA workers


PSAC strike -  Agreement reached, but not for CRA workers

OTTAWA – The nation’s largest federal public sector union reached a tentative contract agreement with the government overnight, covering more than 120,000 public servants across the country and returning them to work after a 12-day strike.


It meant that most of the Public Services Alliance of Canada workers who had been picketing since April 19 were expected to report to work on Monday morning or their next scheduled shift.


But some 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency employees were still on strike on the day of the federal tax filing deadline, as negotiations on a separate collective agreement continued.


“PSAC members stood together and secured a fair contract that keeps up with the cost of living, increased protections around remote work, and creates safer, more inclusive workplaces,” said Chris Aylward, national president of the union, in a statement.


The union said its Tax Employees Union bargaining team would enter into “lightning bargains” with the CRA on Monday.


The tentative deal announced early Monday came after the Treasury Board, which oversees the running of the federal government, submitted what it described as a “final offer” on Friday.


“This was not easy. We negotiated, we compromised and we found creative solutions,” Treasury Board Chair Mona Fortier said at a news conference Monday afternoon.


“And after many days, nights and weekends of hard work, we have reached agreements that are fair and competitive for employees.”


The tentative deals come after a union push for inflation-compensating wage increases, along with a host of other demands, including language around remote work agreements, referred to in the public service as telecommuting.


The agreements include salary increases of 11.5 percent over four years, with a group-specific additional allowance of 0.5 percent in the third year of the contracts.


Previously, the federal government had offered a 9 percent pay increase over three years, while the union was asking for 13.5 percent.


With the tentative agreements, the union says compound wage increases total 12.6 percent.


Workers will also receive a one-time, pensionable payment of $2,500 in a lump sum that represents an additional 3.7 percent of salary for the average union member in Treasury Board bargaining units.


The union said members will have access to additional protections when the employer makes arbitrary decisions about remote work, and managers will be required to assess telework requests individually, not by group, and provide written responses.


Fortier clarified that teleworking is addressed with a separate letter.


“As stated in a letter outside of the collective agreement, a joint review will update our directive for the post-pandemic era, and additional mechanics will help address individual concerns,” Fortier said.


The tentative agreement also includes protections against subcontracting labor. According to the union, in the event of a layoff, an employee who can perform work that is being performed by a contract contractor will not lose their job.


PSAC said the tentative agreement also addresses their claims regarding seniority rights in the event of layoffs.


He said both sides agreed to jointly submit a proposal to the Public Service Commission of Canada to include seniority rights in future “workplace adjustment” plans, or changes to the workforce to reflect the executive’s priorities.


Public servants had been picketing locations across the country for a dozen days in what the union said was one of the largest labor actions in Canadian history.


Service disruptions were apparent during the strike, from delays at the border to pauses in applications for new job insurance, immigration and passports.


“We are going to resume activities as quickly as we can,” Fortier said of the disruption to federal services.


Initial negotiations on a new collective agreement had initially begun in June 2021, and the union had declared deadlock in May 2022, with both parties filing labor grievances since then.



This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 1, 2023



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