About 120,000 federal government workers who have been on strike for 12 days will return to work Monday after a tentative deal was reached overnight between their union and Ottawa.
Ratification of the deal, which would provide a 12% salary increase over four years, must be done in the coming weeks by members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). “This tentative agreement represents significant gains for our members and will set the bar for all workers in the country,” PSAC National President Chris Aylward said in a statement.
The salary increase is being rolled out to 2021 and should remain in place until 2024.
The deal includes a one-time lump sum of $2,500. For union members nearing retirement, the lump sum increases the average salary of their best five-year salary, which increases their retirement benefits.
Treasury Board President Mona Fortier described the tentative contracts with various union units as “fair, competitive and fair.” In a scrum, the minister pointed out that the estimated cost of the deal was $1.3 billion a year. The contract is set for four years instead of three, which he believes will provide more stability.
In recent weeks, negotiations have focused on the short term, with the union seeking a 13.5% increase, while Ottawa has been at 9% since the walkout began.
Ms Fortier said she felt the impasse was being resolved last Friday when the Treasury Board went there with an improved proposal. “I think it really was when we made the final offer […] There was a turning point on the table and we, both sides, put all our energy into it […] After a very long weekend, to reach an agreement early this morning,” he summed up.
Common ground has also emerged on teleworking, which has been a key discussion point throughout the negotiations that began in 2021. Managers should evaluate remote work requests individually — not as a group.
A letter of agreement has been signed and it is independent of collective agreements, according to a media release issued by the Treasury. PSAC believes the agreement will provide “better protection in the event of arbitrary decisions related to telework.”
According to Yvon Barrière, PSAC regional executive vice-president for Quebec, the agreement will have positive effects on other workplaces. “I think it’s a step forward for public service for provincial governments, private companies and municipalities,” he said.
The tentative agreement between PSAC and the Treasury Board also provides for federal job security in cases where Ottawa uses subcontractors. Members who are part of the tribal community will also receive paid time off to carry out traditional activities, which Ms. Fortier said is an important step toward reconciliation.
Tax authorities are still paralyzed
While the walkout has ended for a third of federal public employees, it continues for about 35,000 employees of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The union representing these employees and the government have not reached an agreement.
“We hope for a positive outcome, as soon as possible,” said Mr. Barrière said, indicating his desire to reach an agreement by Tuesday.
On April 19, the PSAC went on a nationwide strike, one of the largest industrial actions in Canadian history, with a total of 155,000 public employees. The disruption caused by the labor dispute was significant: in addition to border delays, the processing of new Employment Insurance, immigration and passport applications was also delayed.
The chairman of the Treasury Board could not say when the population would return to normal.
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