The last time there was a general strike of this magnitude was back in 1991 when federal government employees walked off the job.
Kelowna is one of the 250-plus locations that set up a picket line, Wednesday morning.
Approximately 155,000 federal employees across Canada have staged a walk-out after contract issues involving wages were not resolved, making this strike trike action one of the largest in the nation’s history.
“It’s a peaceful demonstration, it’s all about education,” said Sue Moser, from the Kelowna branch of the Public Service of Canada. Moser, along with approximately 100 other federal workers have been picketing since just after 6 a.m.
“It has been great… We had great numbers out here this morning, said Moser. “It has not only been our union but also our sister union who works inside, the PIPS union they were on the picket line before their shift started.”
The public response has also been supportive as honks from cars could be heard from Ellis Street.
“People are being very respectful. This is a peaceful demonstration and it’s all about information,” she said.
Wage increases have been top of mind at the negotiations table, with the union pushing for annual raises of 4.5 per cent over the next three years. It says the increases are necessary to keep pace with inflation and the cost of living.
Mediated contract negotiations began in early April.
The Treasury Board says it offered the union a nine per cent raise over three years on Sunday, on the recommendation of the third-party Public Interest Commission.
Since the strike involves nearly one-third of all federal public servants, both the union and the government have warned of disruptions, including what could amount to a complete halt of the tax season. Other concerns include slowdowns at the border and disruptions to EI, immigration and passport applications.
Essential federal government employees are required to continue working and their services remain open to the public.
Moser said that the picketers will be out every day at approximately 6:30 a.m. until negotiations are reached.
~With files from Canadian Press