Public Service Alliance of Canada

Treasury Board is urging leaders with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) to let its members review the government’s latest offer, one it calls “fair, competitive and reasonable.”

It’s a wise move.

Only a third of the union members voted for a strike in the first place, but it pitched 155,000 onto the picket line which made it the largest strike against a single employer in Canadian history.

Some 42,420 PSAC members voted in the strike vote—20% of them voting no—which leaves approximately 34,000 members calling the shots to hit the bricks.

If Treasury Board’s latest offer is truly “fair, competitive and reasonable,” a union vote now could end the strike that began April 19.

No one likes holding out for nickels and dimes.

In an open letter released Saturday, the Treasury Board Secretariat said its “final updated comprehensive offer” given to the union on Friday addressed all of PSAC’s remaining demands and included an “enhanced wage offer” that “builds” on recommendations by an independent arbitrator, without providing more details.

“Along with the new wage package, we also presented solutions to address priorities such as telework, seniority, and contracting without impeding our ability to deliver services to Canadians,” the letter said.

“This is a fair, competitive and reasonable final offer, with wage and non-wage improvements, and we believe that employees should have an opportunity to review the details of it.”

The federal government has felt pretty confident in ignoring the union’s demands, prompting strikers to escalate into all-out blockades of bridges, roads and even sections of downtowns across the country.

The Treasury Board offer, however, only applies to approximately 120,000 members in the four bargaining groups under the purview of the board. They include striking workers in the Program and Administrative Services, Operational Services, Technical Services, and Education and Library Science bargaining groups. It does not apply to workers with Canada Revenue Agency.

A PSAC spokesperson said Saturday afternoon the union would not immediately comment “out of respect for the bargaining process,” this as both sides continued to negotiate for the strike’s end.

But the federal government has felt pretty confident in ignoring their demands, prompting strikers to escalate this week into all-out blockades of bridges, roads and even sections of downtowns across the country.

About 30 departments and agencies are impacted, including immigration, citizenship, passport, licensing, and tax services.

After meeting in the middle on hundreds of lesser issues, the two sides remain far apart on the major issue that tends to bog down most labour disputes: Money.

It’s a major sticking point. The federal government has offered a 9% raise spread out over three years, a move that negotiators say would add $6,250 to the average worker’s pocket. The union, meanwhile, began negotiations with a demand for a 13.5% raise over three years.

Across Canada and in various industries, more and more labour disputes are looming because of money disputes. From Vancouver Symphony Orchestra stagehands to nurses in Ontario, and from WestJet pilots to flight attendants at that airline and others, it seems to be a sentiment echoed by workers across the country.

Money, however, will not be a precedent in the PSAC strike. It will be whatever deal negotiators made on remote work.

That will be a game-changer.


  • Mark Bonokoski

    Mark Bonokoski is a member of the Canadian News Hall of Fame and has been published by a number of outlets – including the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s and Readers’ Digest.