No deal at union deadline; federal workers hit the picket lines as talks continue

Negotiations are expected to continue despite thousands of members of Canada’s largest federal public service union going on strike at 12:01 a.m. ET today.

The government and the Canadian Public Service Federation remain at odds when it comes to key contractual issues between the parties, according to a news release from Canada’s Treasury Secretariat late Tuesday. The negotiating team involved about 155,000 federal public servants, including 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency workers.

Picket lines are expected to be set up at more than 250 locations this morning in what the union says is one of the largest in Canadian history. National President Chris Aylward said at a brief news conference in Ottawa Tuesday night that despite the move, union officials remain hopeful and aim for an initial deal.

Several federal ministers, including the chair of the Treasury committee, Mona Fortier, are expected to address the media later today and provide an update on the progress of the talks.

Wage increases have been at the forefront of negotiations, with the union pushing for a 4.5 per cent increase each year for the next three years. It said the increase was necessary to keep pace with inflation and the cost of living. A 9 per cent pay rise over three years was proposed to unions on Sunday, a Treasury committee said, based on recommendations from a third-party public interest committee.

With the strike involving nearly a third of the federal public servant, both unions and the government have warned of potential disruption, including one that could bring the tax season to a complete halt. Other concerns include a slowdown at the border and disruptions in EI, immigration and passport applications.

Initial negotiations began in June 2021 and the union is looking for a new contract. The union declared a stalemate in May 2022, with labor complaints filed by both sides.

Mediation contract negotiations began in early April and continued into the weekend in what the union said was the government’s last chance to reach a deal.

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