Public Service Alliance of Canada members hit the picket lines in Kingston, Ont.

Click to play video: 'Hundreds of PSAC members at the picket lines in Kingston, Ont.'
Hundreds of PSAC members at the picket lines in Kingston, Ont.
WATCH: Government employees in Kingston hit the picket lines bright and early Wednesday morning after the union was unable to reach a deal with the feds Tuesday night – Apr 19, 2023

Hundreds of members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) hit the picket lines early Wednesday morning for the first day of their strike against the federal government.

There are more than 4,500 local union members who work in the Kingston area ranging from Service Canada and Canada Revenue Agency employees to correctional workers.

However, the biggest portion of the group includes almost 2,000 Department of National Defence workers, most of whom work at CFB Kingston and the Royal Military College.

Officials with PSAC say that the main issue is a wage increase, among other things.

“It’s been a few years coming. This bargaining process started almost two years ago, so it’s not like this is anything new,” said Tracy Astbury-Hart, vice-president for the Union of National Defence Employees Local 00641.

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At the military base and down the hill at RMC, cars were stopped in lines to hear about the workers’ concerns, creating some long traffic lines at the foot of Fort Henry Hill.

While they’re fighting for improved wages, the employees are also taking a pay cut, something that Astbury-Hart said can make it difficult for picketers.

“I’m sitting in two minds, to be honest with you. It’s kind of tormenting because I want to be at work, but I can’t not be here,” she said.

UNDE Local 00641 President Chris Snooks said that, when deciding to head to the picket lines, the employees are forced to consider the fact that it affects more than just them.

“A lot of our members can’t even let their kids take events or go on school trips or stuff because they’re still nervous. Are they going to get paid every day? Are they going to be able to survive at the end of the day?” added Snooks.

Despite this, both Snooks and Astbury-Hart said that the picketers are in good spirits, and are optimistic that a deal will be reached soon.

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