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No deal at union deadline; federal workers hit the picket lines as talks continue

Pickets expected to be set up this morning at more than 250 locations

Negotiations are expected to continue despite thousands of members with Canada’s largest federal public-service union walking off the job this morning at 12:01 a.m. ET.

A late Tuesday news release from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat says the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada are still at odds when it comes to key contract issues for both sides. The bargaining groups involve some 155,000 federal public servants, including 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency workers.

With picket lines expected to be set up this morning at some 250 plus locations, the union is calling the strike action one of the largest in Canadian history. National President Chris Aylward said during a brief news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday night that despite the move, union officials are still hopeful and the goal is to get a tentative agreement.

A handful of federal ministers, including Mona Fortier, president of the Treasury Board, are expected to address the media later today and provide an update on how the bargaining is going.

Wage increases have been top of mind at the 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. 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.

Initial negotiations began in June 2021, with the union looking for a new contract. The union declared an impasse in May 2022 and both parties filed labour complaints.

Mediated contract negotiations began in early April of this year and continued through the weekend in what the union described as the government’s last chance to reach a deal.

READ MORE: PSAC says strike will begin Wednesday if no deal reached with federal government