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Government submits new offer to striking federal union

Striking workers represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Striking workers represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The federal government presented a counter-offer Friday afternoon to striking Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members.

Details of the offer have not been released but it covers the larger Treasury Board group of about 120,000 workers. Talks are ongoing for the Canada Revenue Agency group of more than 35,000 workers, the union said in an email.

In a statement, the office of Treasury Board President Mona Fortier called the offer "comprehensive."

A union spokesperson told CBC the two sides are talking Friday and there are plans to bargain through the weekend.

In an email, PSAC also said it wouldn't comment until further notice and it hopes to continue bargaining over the weekend.

The strike, which started on April 19, has disrupted about 30 departments and has affected a range of services, including processing of income tax returns and passports.

The union has ramped up its picket lines this week at locations such as the Lacolle border crossing in Quebec and Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

The union and government have been working on a new deal since 2021. The union says its members need help with the rising cost of living and the government has said it needs a deal that's fair for the union and taxpayers.

Both sides agree members should get a raise, but they differ on how much. At least publicly, the government has said it won't give a raise of more than nine per cent over three years, while the union wants a larger raise.

The other key sticking points during negotiations include who sets remote work rulescontracting and seniority during layoffs, according to what's been shared publicly.

Trudeau 'directly' involved in negotiations with PSAC

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has been "directly and intimately involved in the negotiations."

"I have deep faith in collective bargaining as a process and we know that our negotiators are putting forward serious offers and working constructively with labourers on this," he said Friday.

"This is an important part of how we make sure that workers are properly supported in this country and we're going to continue to allow it to unfold and I will continue to be engaged with it."

Fortier reiterated this week her side will not move off its stance that decisions around telework are the right of management, and the union needs to "start bringing their demands in line" with the independent Public Interest Commission (PIC) report recommendations from February

PSAC national president Chris Aylward said his side has made moves away from its wage increase proposal, which he hasn't specified publicly, and he said it was time for the government side to make its own move.

Aylward said the union wouldn't compromise on wages for gains in other areas. As for remote work, PSAC wants specific rules laid out in a new deal.