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Possible civil service strike | Apprehension in the Liberal ranks



(Ottawa) Justin Trudeau’s Liberals fear the political consequences of a strike by federal civil servants that could be called from the end of May.

A strike could obviously again disrupt services such as the delivery of passports, the study of applications for employment insurance benefits, or tax refunds to taxpayers, among other examples.

But a walkout could also jeopardize the deal the Liberals struck with the New Democrats last March to have free rein in the House of Commons, should Ottawa be forced to pass back-to-work legislation. .

For their part, the unions representing federal government employees are well aware of their balance of power, and promise to exert the means of pressure necessary to obtain, in particular, wage increases that take into account the rise in the cost of living.

In the Liberal ranks, there are fears that a strike could again harm the delivery of essential services. We still remember the rain of criticism that fell on the Trudeau government last summer with the passport crisis and the chaos in the airports.

“We have to look at how the services will operate if there is a strike. It is obvious that it will be affected,” indicated a liberal source who requested anonymity in order to be able to speak more freely.

Another Liberal source argued that a public service walkout could cause serious tensions between the Trudeau government and the New Democratic Party (NDP) if Ottawa were to pass back-to-work legislation.

Start of strike votes

Strike votes got underway on Tuesday for the 35,000 public servants at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If a strike were called, it could happen right in the middle of tax season. Essential services would however be maintained, we are assured in the union camp.

For the moment, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has not decided what form this strike will take: rotating, unlimited, daily or otherwise.

PSAC regional executive vice-president Yvon Barrière expects an “extremely strong vote in favor” of the strike. “Do you know who helped us? It is [la présidente du Conseil du Trésor] Mona Fortier, who unilaterally announced at the end of December the end of full-time telework, ”he says.

The union leader makes no secret of it: the union will have an important balance of power.

” Definitively ! I do not see with whom Justin Trudeau can make an alliance with an anti-worker law, ”said Mr. Barrière. Only the Conservatives would be likely to support a special law, he believes.

“Is Justin Trudeau going to kneel in front of Pierre Poilievre? Never, because until recently, he criticized Doug Ford for the bill aimed at the return to work of support workers in education, ”he maintains.

Over the next few weeks, approximately 120,000 PSAC members will be called upon to vote on a strike mandate. The issues of wages and the end of full-time remote work are at the heart of the dispute.

The federal government offers a 1.5% increase the first year, 3% the second, then 2% and 1.75%, an average of 2.06% per year. The Alliance is asking for a 4.5% increase per year.

A strike would hurt politically, believes Boulerice

NDP Deputy Leader Alexandre Boulerice said the Liberals are right to fear they could pay a political price if public servants come out in favor of the strike. He said he expected a strike to be called.

“It is worrying, because there is no movement at the negotiating table. If there is a strike, the Liberals will be in trouble politically. They had difficulty providing good service. It will add to their balance sheet,” said Mr. Boulerice, who is also the NDP’s labor critic.

“The unions do not want public service employees to become poorer, he also analyzed. Inflation is hovering around 7%. Also, we want the public service to remain competitive and to be able to retain people and attract new people. »

He also said that the NDP would fight tooth and nail against special back-to-work legislation. He also recalled that the governance agreement between the Liberals and the NDP provides for the tabling of anti-scab legislation in 2023.

In the office of Minister Mona Fortier, it is reported that “civil servants have the right to strike” and that the Trudeau government “respects this right”, without wanting to advance on the hypothetical scenario of the tabling of a law of return at work.

“We are determined to reach agreements with all bargaining agents that are fair to employees and that take into account the current economic and financial context,” the same written statement added.

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  • 37%
    This is the score that the Conservative Party would obtain if an election were held this week, against 29% for the Liberals and 18% for the NDP.

    source: Abacus Data (POLL RELEASED WEDNESDAY)

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