Is this the end of Canada’s PSAC strikes?


A brief timeline of the PSAC strikes 

Canada’s labour strikes inched closer to a resolution, with the PSAC reaching a tentative agreement for over 120,000 workers in the Treasury board. The move comes almost two weeks after the strikes began on April 18.  

Below is a brief outline of the major events leading up to the tentative deal with the Treasury Board on May 1, 2023. 

  • April 18, 2023– PSAC announces almost 155,000 federal government workers, including 120,000 Treasury Board workers and 40,000 CRA workers, are set to go on strike. 
  • April 19, 2023– Over 100,000 government employees kick off one of Canada’s biggest labour strikes affecting 28 departments, including the IRCC and Transport Canada. 
  • April 22, 2023– The federal government presents revised contract proposals that don’t advance negotiations on salaries 
  • April 23, 2023– PSAC prepares to ramp up strike efforts in retaliation 
  • April 26, 2023– The PSAC compromises on its wage demands of a 13.5% increase over 3 years 
  • April 29, 2023– The federal government sends the PSAC its final offer, including a better wage package 
  • May 1, 2023– The PSAC reaches a tentative deal with the Treasury board for over 120,000 employees, securing a wage increase of 12.6% over 4 years. 

What is the PSAC? 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is a labour union representing public service workers from federal government departments, agencies, universities, security and community services.  

Demands of striking workers 

The recent strikes began on April 18, 2023, after months of negotiating with the government about wage hikes, job security and work conditions. Some of the PSAC’s initial demands were as follows: 

  • Wage increase of 13.5% over 3 years to combat inflation. In response, the government proposed a 9% increase over three years. 
  • Making telework/ work from home a negotiable right for some employees. Managers should be required to assess remote work requests individually and provide written responses for a fairer decision-making process. 
  • A ban on contracting out. 
  • Job security based on seniority when downsizing the workforce. 

The terms of the PSAC’s tentative agreement with Ottawa 

The PSAC reached a tentative agreement with the Treasury Board for over 120,000 public servants on May 1, 2023. The agreement is set to run till 2024 and retroactively reach back to June 2021. 

The terms of the new agreement are as follows: 

  • Increased Wage offer– A 12.6% compounded wage increase over 4 years (2021-2024) to compensate for the rising inflation. A 0.5% group-specific allowance in the third year and a one-time lump sum payment of $2,500 for all near-retirement members. 
  • Review of Remote work directives– Review additional protection for PSAC members on decisions relating to remote work. Joint Union-employer panels will also be introduced to address issues related to the application of remote work directives in the workplace. 
  • Safer and more Inclusive workplaces– A joint committee will be constituted to review training courses, promote employment equity, diversity, and inclusion, and ensure that employees are aware of training opportunities available during work hours. 
  • Protections against contracting out The agreement also protects public service jobs by limiting the practice of contracting out services to private hands. In the event of layoffs, PSAC members will keep their jobs if they can perform the duties of a contractor currently working with the federal government. 
  • Seniority rights The PSAC will submit a joint proposal to the Public Service Commission of Canada to implement seniority rights and protection in any workforce adjustments. 

Other gains made by the PSAC include increasing the bilingual allowance- to incentivize bilingualism and promote Indigenous languages, an increase in shift premiums- meaning extra compensation for workers who work split or irregular shifts and leave for union business and other types of leaves. 

Are the strikes coming to an end? 

While the PSAC has reached an agreement with the Treasury Board, another arm, the PSAC-UTE, representing almost 35,000 federal workers in the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), continued their strike, awaiting resolutions with their CRA. They recently countered the government’s offer of a 9% wage increase over 3 years with their own demand for a 22.5% increase over 3 years.

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.