Ottawa disputes PSAC claim of ‘incompetence,’ ‘disrespect’ stalling strike talks – National

Ottawa disputes PSAC claim of ‘incompetence,’ ‘disrespect’ stalling strike talks – National

The president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) said Saturday that the union has not heard a response from the Treasury Board yet on a proposal for a deal that the union’s team submitted Thursday night.

That comes as federal media officials for the department accuse the union of “inflexibility” and not responding to their attempts to discuss an offer.

“This is a complete demonstration of the incompetence of this minister in this position, to allow these negotiations to draw out this long,” Chris Aylward said during a press conference, referring to Mona Fortier, the president of the Treasury Board.

“I’ve never seen a round of bargaining like this.”

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Only 35% of PSAC members cast a ballot in strike vote, labour board says

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Aylward said the package delivered on Thursday was “comprehensive” and the union thought it “might get us to a deal.”

He said that on Friday morning, he was told he’d get a response on one of the issues, but still hasn’t heard anything. He blamed the federal government for “dragging out this negotiation” and said “disrespect” has been shown at the negotiating table.

Aylward also called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The prime minister has done nothing to move these negotiations along,” he said, requesting that he be more involved moving forward.

The federal government issued a statement disputing Aylward’s comments within hours.

In the statement, Treasury Board accused the union of “inflexibility” and said government negotiators have been trying to get in touch.

“On Friday, we tried to contact the PSAC to meet with us to discuss their proposal. They were unreachable at the common issues table,” the statement said.

“This morning, we reached out again through the mediator and told them we would present a new offer at 1:00 p.m. today. The PSAC took three hours to respond to the request, initially accepting the meeting at 12:31 p.m., and then at 12:40 p.m. advised that they were no longer available at that time.”

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The statement continued: “While our negotiators and our offer waited, Mr. Aylward chose instead, to go on television to complain that he had not received it.”

Click to play video: 'The financial impact of PSAC strike'

The financial impact of PSAC strike

PSAC said earlier Saturday in a statement that talks with the federal government were continuing over the weekend as the public service strike finished up its first week.

“We’ve continued to make some progress in negotiations this week as PSAC members joined picket lines across the country to pressure the government for a fair contract,” the union said in the statement.

“However, there are several key issues still outstanding at the table, and talks will continue over the weekend for more than 155,000 workers at Treasury Board and Canada Revenue Agency in the hopes of reaching an agreement.”

The strike began this week and saw federal workers form picket lines to push the government to meet the union’s goals, which include a 13.5 per cent wage increase over three years.

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Despite the union saying it had overwhelming support for the strike action, the federal labour board revealed on Thursday that only 35 per cent of its over 100,000 members took part in the vote calling for a strike.

The board found in a decision released Thursday that PSAC failed to properly let members know it had shortened the voting period by eight days, moving the deadline from April 19 to April 11. Of the 38,207 people that cast a ballot, 80 per cent of them were in favour of a strike mandate.

The decision also shows that the union did not have the correct email addresses for 15,000 members. Those people received a letter in the mail instead, which was sent before the union moved up the April deadline.

— with files from The Canadian Press.

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