By Ismail Shakil
OTTAWA (Reuters) – A union representing some 155,000 striking Canadian public workers called on Saturday for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to speed up negotiations over a deal for higher wages and work-from-home guarantees.
A wide range of public services from tax returns to passport renewals have been affected since Wednesday, when about 120,000 workers under the Treasury Board and over 35,000 revenue agency workers, represented by Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) union, went on strike.
PSAC President Chris Aylward told reporters the strike would continue until a “fair deal” has been agreed. He said the union has been waiting for the federal government’s response to its proposal made on Thursday and that the union’s bargaining teams were “fed up” of waiting.
“I need to see the prime minister getting involved in these negotiations and helping and assisting to move these negotiations along,” Aylward said.
Talks resumed shortly after Aylward spoke. The Treasury Board of Canada, which oversees federal administration and has been handling negotiations for the government, said it had “been at the bargaining table every day since mediation started.”
“There is no time, nor tolerance for stalling and misinformation,” the office of Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said in a statement. “Now that the PSAC has returned to the table after their press conference, talks have resumed.”
Earlier, the federal government said it offered a “fair, competitive offer,” including a 9% wage increase over three years, and that it would continue negotiations to reach an agreement quickly.
Tax agency workers want a pay bump of 22.5% over three years, while the Treasury Board workers are seeking a 13.5% pay rise over three years. Inflation peaked at 8.1% last year but has since come down to about half of that.
Apart from wages, PSAC also wants the new agreement to recognize the right to work remotely.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio)