OTTAWA: Canada’s finance minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday urged striking public sector workers to accept what she called a “very fair” government proposal, even as the workers’ union warned it would ramp up pressure to get its demands met.
The strike by about 155,000 federal government workers, represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, entered a sixth day on Monday, affecting a wide range of public services from tax returns to passport renewals.
Over 100,000 have participated in the strike since Wednesday, while others were deemed essential and required to continue working.
Though the key dispute is over wages, the union has flagged other issues including the right to work remotely and the role of seniority with regard to layoffs.
“Our government has put a very fair offer clearly and openly on the table,” Freeland told reporters in Toronto.
“I would urge union representatives to roll up their sleeves, let’s resolve this with the very fair terms that the federal government has put forward,” she said.
The government has offered a 9% wage increase over three years, and said 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.
Some progress was achieved in negotiations over the weekend
but a deal had not been agreed, PSAC president Chris Aylward said on Sunday. He added that the union would “escalate” actions from Monday, without proving details.
The union did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
“By escalating our actions today, our goal is to pressure this government to reach a fair contract as quickly as possible, so that we can get back to delivering the services Canadians depend on,” PSAC said on Twitter.