Canada’s tax authority reaches deal with 35,000 striking workers

Tentative Canada Revenue Agency deal ends two-week strike, one of the largest labour actions in the country’s history.

Striking federal workers hold a banner reading 'Respect' on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Picketers march on Parliament Hill after more than 155,000 public-sector workers began a strike, in Ottawa, Canada, April 19, 2023 [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]

The Canadian tax authority has reached a tentative deal with 35,000 striking employees, ending a two-week work stoppage that, at its peak, marked one of the largest, public-sector labour disputes in the country’s history.

In a statement on Thursday, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) union said it had “secured a fair contract for members that exceeds the employer’s original offer before the launch of strike action” last month.

The agreement for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) workers “provides wage increases above those negotiated by other federal bargaining agents”, the union said, as well as new protections against layoffs and improvements on work hours, telework provisions and seniority.

More than 35,000 CRA employees walked off the job on April 19 alongside another 120,000 other federal workers – amounting to about a third of Canada’s public sector employees.

They hit picket lines at hundreds of locations across the country with demands for cost-of-living raises and telework flexibility.

Canada reached a first agreement with the 120,000 federal workers earlier this week, but the CRA employees had remained on strike as their negotiations continued.

The CRA said on Thursday that the four-year tentative deal includes an 11.5 percent wage increase over four years, retroactive to 2021, for approximately 39,000 of its employees, as well as a one-time payment of $1,800 (2,500 Canadian dollars).

It also requires managers to assess telework requests individually, the union said, instructing its members to return to work on Thursday.

Telework had been a major sticking point, as many employees had grown accustomed to working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The CRA wants to thank members of both bargaining teams for their dedication and hard work during this round of negotiations, and especially these past few weeks,” the tax authority said in a statement.

“Through long hours of negotiations, the CRA and the [union] found ways to compromise and, in doing so, succeeded in reaching a tentative agreement, which is both fair to employees and reasonable for taxpayers.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies