Labour strike hits the ports

If you’re looking to renew your passport, apply for Canadian citizenship, or send a shipping container’s worth of stuff anywhere, this might not be your week. 

What happened: A week into one of Canada’s largest labour disruptions, the union representing over 155,000 workers is escalating its strike efforts by moving their picket lines beyond government buildings to strategic economic hubs, like the country’s ports. 

  • The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) tweeted that they had set up picket lines at the Port of Montreal, Port of Vancouver, and Port of St. John's, as well as the Treasury Board office in Ottawa.
  • “Our goal is to pressure this government to reach a fair contract [ASAP] so that we can get back to delivering the services Canadians depend on,” tweeted PSAC.

Catch-up: Over the weekend, both sides were at the bargaining table presenting offers, counteroffers, and more counteroffers, with no agreement reached, per The Globe and Mail. 

Why it’s happening: Wages and flexibility. PSAC wants a 13.5% wage hike over three years (the feds are offering 9%) and for remote work language to be included in contracts, in response to a mandate requiring federal workers to work in the office 2-3 days per week. 

  • About 60% of all striking workers, according to PSAC, earn less than $70,000. One analysis shows their wage gains since 2007 have been 7.8% lower than the national average. 

Bottom line: With both sides “accusing the other of resorting to delaying tactics at the negotiating table,” per The Globe and Mail, tensions are running high with no quick solution in sight. Until an agreement is reached, expect disruption to public services to continue.—SB