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PSAC strike could have domino effect for unionized workers: labour expert

Almost a third of all federal public servants are involved in the strike
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) federal employees form a picket line in Montreal, Wednesday, April 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

A labour expert says if the current strike by thousands of public sector workers is successful, it could have a domino effect for unionized workers in other industries. 

Larry Savage, a professor in the labour studies department at Brock University, says strikes in the federal public service are rare, but the current labour dispute is reflective of a larger trend that’s seeing more militancy among unionized workers amid persistent inflation. 

Thousands of public-service workers began their strike Wednesday morning after the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, representing some 155,000 federal workers up for bargaining, couldn’t reach a deal in negotiations that began almost two years ago. 

Almost a third of all federal public servants are involved in the strike, and the union and government alike have warned of disruptions to tax season, border operations, Employment Insurance, immigration and passport applications. 

Savage said the striking workers have been without a contract for around two years, meaning as inflation climbed they saw zero increases in their wages.

Wage increases are one of the biggest sticking points, with PSAC pushing for 4.5 per cent raises annually over the next three years to keep pace with inflation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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