Nearly a third of Canada’s federal workers walked off the job Wednesday morning in one of the largest strikes in the country’s history.
The union representing more than 155,000 government employees says it called the nationwide strike to demand higher pay and clarity on work from home provisions, among other issues.
Canadians can expect disruptions on a variety of services, including passport applications and tax returns. Essential services will remain in place.
Union and government negotiators are still at the bargaining table. But in a statement released late Tuesday, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the union representing government workers, said it had ‘exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract’.
“Now more than ever, workers need fair wages, good working conditions and inclusive workplaces,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president in a statement. “And it’s clear the only way we’ll achieve that is by taking strike action to show the government that workers can’t wait.”
Canadian government officials responded with a statement late Tuesday saying they had a fair and competitive offer on the table that includes a 9% wage increase over three years, as well as proposals on remote work and improved family leave. But the government claimed that union demands are ‘unaffordable’ and would compromise the government’s ability to deliver services to Canadians.
“The government has done everything it can to reach a deal and avoid disrupting the services that Canadians rely on,” Canada’s government said in a statement. “Despite some ongoing movement at the bargaining table on key issues by both sides, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has decided to proceed with a nation-wide general strike.”
Picket lines popped up around the country early Wednesday morning even as negotiations were expected to continue.
Large-scale strikes have been popping up around the world as workers grow increasingly frustrated with surging inflation. Nationwide strikes in Germany, the United Kingdom and France have recently shut down services across the countries.
This article was originally published by CNN.