Canada settles with striking workforce

An agreement has been reached between Canada and 120,000 federal workers who have been on strike, effectively ending one of the country’s largest public-sector work stoppages in history. The strike had caused a significant impact on services ranging from passport renewals to immigration. However, more than 35,000 workers at the Canada Revenue Agency, who had also gone on strike last month, are still in negotiations, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) union.

PSAC National President Chris Aylward stated that workers were asked to accept less during a period of record-high inflation and soaring corporate profits, but their members united and fought for better, resulting in a beneficial agreement that will set the bar for all Canadian workers. A third of Canada’s public workers, approximately 155,000 people, began striking on April 19th, with demands for cost-of-living raises and telework flexibility, hitting picket lines at hundreds of locations throughout the country.

Mona Fortier, the head of the Treasury Board, the federal employer, announced that the agreement was reached after “many weeks of hard work, negotiation and compromise,” and she respected the right to negotiate and appreciated the patience and understanding of Canadians during the past two weeks. The union stated that it had secured significant new protections for teleworking, which many employees had grown accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic. New “language in a letter of agreement” would require managers to evaluate remote work requests on an individual basis and not by group.

The union stated in a separate statement that the remaining 35,000 federal revenue agency workers are still on strike because of a few unresolved issues, including language in their collective agreement to enable “telework arrangements,” pay that would address “cost of living and inflationary pressures,” and more job safety provisions. The deal between the government and the 120,000 federal workers involved a 12.6 percent wage increase over the four-year contract period (2021-2024), which is less than the union’s desired 13.5 percent raise but higher than the government’s proposed nine percent increase.

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