Bargaining continues this weekend
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April 29, 2023
Hey Shift Workers,

This week, I tried to get a clearer picture of who exactly makes up the 155,000 federal public sector workers on strike.

Right wing pundits have predictably painted these workers as "entitled" and "privileged" "bureaucrats" who deserve strike-breaking legislation.

However, the expired collective agreements are pretty easy to find online and they paint a more complex picture.

These workers are bookkeepers, lighthouse keepers, secretaries, boiler plant operators, airplane safety inspectors, court reporters, firefighters, ship's crews, teachers, librarians, and more.

"The workers on the line right now are just everyday people trying to make a living, they're not rich," Serge Desbiens, a PSAC bargaining member told me.

Learn more about different groups within the Treasury Board bargaining unit here.

From Bookkeepers to Lighthouse Keepers: What Striking Federal Workers Actually Do
We also learned that the majority of the federal public service is made up of women, according to government data.

One of the largest groups on strike, Programs and Administrative Services, is predominantly women. Of the PA group’s 90,000 members, PSAC says 72% are women and 61% make under $70,000.

These women workers, as well as Black and racialized workers, are among the lowest paid in the public service and are unhappy with the government's current wage offer.

"Wages and inclusivity are not the diametric opposite to each other," PSAC bargaining team member Kristina McLean told me.

"I don’t know how you recruit women into a safe workplace while you’re not paying them enough to feed their families."

Nicholas Marcus Thompson, PSAC member and Executive Director of the Black Class Action Secretariat, also had harsh words for the government.

"The Government of Canada’s position that it is a feminist government, a government that is diverse and inclusive, well, all of that flies in the face of what we’re seeing at the collective bargaining table," Thompson told me.

Read the full article here.
Federal Government is Failing Women, Black and Racialized Workers in the Public Service, Striking Workers Say
Striking workers call offers from Justin Trudeau’s ‘feminist’ government ‘frustrating’ and ‘hypocritical’
Meanwhile, Poilievre's Conservatives have been walking a tightrope to avoid saying the quiet part loud: they don't really like unions or the public sector at all.

Poilievre has tried to rebrand himself as worker friendly, but the traditional Conservative base of business lobbyists has been clamouring to break the strike.

Today, Poilievre dogwhistled a call for back-to-work legislation without saying it outright. Yesterday, Conservative Treasury Board Critic Stephanie Kusie refused to say whether the Conservatives think public sector workers should get a raise.
"Ok, I’m just going to register that’s not an answer to the direct question"
Today, PSAC said they received a new offer from the federal government, but did not release details. Bargaining will resume throughout the weekend.

Given the historic size of the PSAC strike, we've been following it closely, but usually in this newsletter you'll see a roundup of labour news and strikes from across the country. Next week, I'll aim to include the regular labour news roundup whether the PSAC strike continues or not. Workers are agitating across the country and it's definitely keeping me busy!

In the meantime, keep up with our strike coverage on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.


Emily Leedham
Shift Work Editor


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