Government tables new offer in PSAC negotiations

The federal government has tabled a new offer at the negotiating table with Canada’s largest public sector union as workers strike for a 10th day.

A spokesperson for Treasury Board President Mona Fortier called the offer “comprehensive” on Friday afternoon. They did not say whether the offer included a higher wage increase than the government’s previous offer of nine per cent over three years.

Wages and remote work have been the key sticking points between the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Public servants from PSAC bargaining units representing 155,000 members have been on strike since last week.

On Wednesday, PSAC national president Chris Aylward said the union had moved off its initial wage demand of a 13.5 per cent increase over three years, but the government was refusing to budge from its offer of nine per cent.

Fortier countered by saying PSAC’s demands were unreasonable and unaffordable.

Striking public servants have been escalating strike action as negotiations continue. In the national capital region on Thursday, picketers limited access to federal buildings and temporarily disrupting traffic on an interprovincial bridge.

They were out in full force again on Friday, with large crowds gathered on both the Ottawa and Gatineau sides of the river.

Earlier this week Aylward said he wanted Trudeau to get directly involved in the negotiations. Trudeau, who was in New York City this week for a trade trip, said Friday he is involved.

“I have been directly and intimately involved in the negotiations, in hearing about what discussions are going on,” he said, responding to a question from a reporter at a news conference.

“I have deep faith in collective bargaining as a process,” Trudeau said. “We know that our negotiators are putting forward serious offers.”

PSAC’s main bargaining unit has been without a contract for two years. The government’s current wage offer would be backdated to 2021, with a 1.5 per cent increase that year, followed by 4.5 per cent raise in 2022 and another of three per cent in 2023.

The union initially asked for 13.5 per cent over the same time frame and while it says it has adjusted that ask, it has not said what the new request is.

In a tweet Friday morning, PSAC said it wants a raise that keeps up with inflation and insists the public sector hasn’t received a raise in line with inflation in more than 15 years.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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