Striking public servants plan giant rally on Parliament Hill as talks grind ‘to a halt’

Striking public servants are consolidating their picketing efforts on Parliament Hill Wednesday as their union says talks with the federal government have “ground to a halt.”

More than 150,000 workers with the Public Service Alliance of Canada are on strike for an eighth straight day as union representatives negotiate with the government for a bigger wage increase and more flexibility to work remotely.

A PSAC email to members Tuesday night said the government “has dug in on their position, and has shown no movement on our key issues, especially wages and remote work.”

“They think they can wait you out – they’re testing you, and they think you’re going to give up,” the email said. “But we’re going to keep holding the line and fighting for better.”

Workers have been picketing in several locations across Ottawa and Gatineau, including Tunney’s Pasture and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier’s office on Montreal Road. But Wednesday will be a different story, with public servants being told to gather on Parliament Hill.

Alex Silas, PSAC’s regional executive vice-president for the National Capital Region, said the union is calling on all members and its allies across the labour movement to join them on the Hill on Wednesday.

“It is high time that this government understand that workers in the federal public service deserve fair wages that keep up with the cost of living; that all workers deserve fair wages that keep up with the cost of living,” he said in a video on Twitter.

PSAC officials are planning a news conference at 12:30 p.m. on Parliament Hill on Wednesday. The event will be streamed live on this page.

The rally comes as the union escalates its strike activities, even as talks continue with the federal government in an effort to reach a deal.

On Tuesday, hundreds of public servants marched across the Portage bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau. Outside the Prime Minister’s Office building and the Treasury Board headquarters a few blocks away, strikers limited entry to just one person every five minutes.

Fortier told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that both parties were at the bargaining table Tuesday morning.

In an open letter published on Monday, Fortier identified four main areas of disagreement that remain between the union and the government: wages, teleworking, outsourcing contracts and seniority rules in the event of a layoff.

When asked if the current offer to increase wages by nine per cent over three years was the final offer by the federal government, Fortier did not give a clear response. Speaking in French, she said that the offer was based off the recommendation of the third-party Public Interest Commission.

The union has been pushing for a 13.5 per cent increase in pay for its members over the same period of time.

– with files from Haneen Al-Hassoun, CTV Morning Live, and The Canadian Press

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