(Ottawa) Federal ministers say Tuesday they are monitoring roadblocks and critical infrastructure blockages, as striking federal workers deliver on their promise to step up their job action, disrupting traffic and restricting access to office buildings in downtown Ottawa.
More than 150,000 federal public servants who are members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) are on strike for the seventh consecutive day on Tuesday. Their union representatives continue to negotiate with the government for a bigger pay rise and more flexibility from the employer in terms of teleworking.
In the federal capital region, on Tuesday, hundreds of picketers made their presence felt and heard around various buildings, in a din of megaphones and thundering music.
Hundreds of strikers crossed the Portage Bridge, between Ottawa and Gatineau, the Quebec city where there are also important federal buildings, blocking traffic for a short period on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, in front of the Prime Minister’s Office building and in front of the Treasury Board headquarters, a few blocks away, the strikers limited access to one person every five minutes.
Signs on the picket lines reflected key issues identified by Treasury Board President Mona Fortier on Monday, including wages and public servants’ concerns about increased contracting out in Ottawa.
The escalation on the picket lines comes after PSAC National President Chris Aylward promised that picket lines would move to “more strategic locations” where job action would have greater economic impact, such as seaports of entry.
The workers thus settled at the Port of Montreal on Monday, delaying the arrival of trucks and causing slight slowdowns.
“On the one hand, they have the right to strike and demonstrate,” Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters on Tuesday. On the other hand, we have to make sure that the economy can continue to function across the country. »
Ministers would not comment on details of the talks with the union on Tuesday, saying instead that those conversations were happening at the bargaining table.
“I know Canadians would like us to avoid disrupting travel and supply chains, and our goal is to address this issue at the negotiating table,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said of the disruptions. potential.
On his way to the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the minister said he had been in contact with port and airport authorities to ensure contingency plans were in place.