Strike votes being held among federal government workers across Canada will include hundreds of employees in the Northwest Territories.
In a news release, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, or PSAC, said it is launching nationwide strike votes after talks broke down over “wages and other key issues.”
The move is not connected to a separate strike vote for City of Yellowknife workers earlier this month, though PSAC represents both. In each case, the rising cost of living was cited as a key concern.
“Wages are stalled, the cost of living is rising, and workers are being left behind. Workers can’t wait. None of us can,” PSAC national president Chris Aylward was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Federal strike votes are anticipated from February 22 to April 19 and will involve members in the program and administrative services, operational services, technical services, and education and library science bargaining groups.
Across Canada, that amounts to more than 120,000 federal staff. Strike votes for a further 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency workers were announced earlier this month.
In the Northwest Territories, a spokesperson said, there are around 700 federal workers – “nearly all” of which will be included in forthcoming strike votes.
Strike votes don’t automatically result in strike action but, if a majority of voting members back a strike vote, the result authorizes their union to call a strike if other bargaining measures fail.
PSAC says the federal wage offer – reportedly a 2.06-percent annual increase, virtually identical to that being offered by the City of Yellowknife to municipal workers – is “completely out of touch with record-high inflation.” PSAC is reported to be seeking a 4.5-percent annual increase for federal staff.
In a statement earlier this month, the federal government accused PSAC of breaching its duty to bargain in good faith.
Ottawa said the union had “flooded the bargaining tables with costly proposals,” refused to prioritize requests or move on from initial proposals, and “did not respond to the employer’s comprehensive offers.”
Federal government workers in the NWT support the likes of Service Canada in downtown Yellowknife’s Greenstone Building, the Canadian Coast Guard, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs files such as mine remediation, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. A PSAC spokesperson said Parks Canada staff are not affected by Tuesday’s announcement.