PSAC strike: Workers limit access to government buildings, key infrastructure

Click to play video: 'PSAC strike: Workers increasing pressure on feds for deal'
PSAC strike: Workers increasing pressure on feds for deal
WATCH - PSAC strike: Workers increasing pressure on feds for deal – Apr 24, 2023

Federal ministers say they are monitoring for blockades of critical roads and infrastructure Tuesday as striking federal workers make good on a promise to ramp up their picket efforts by disrupting traffic and limiting access to office buildings in downtown Ottawa.

More than 150,000 federal public servants with the Public Service Alliance of Canada are on strike for the seventh straight day as their union representatives continue to negotiate with the government for a bigger wage increase and more flexibility to work remotely.

Around the National Capital Region, hundreds of picketers are making their presence felt and heard, circling buildings, chanting through megaphones and blasting music.

Hundreds of public servants marched across the Portage Bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., where some of the biggest federal buildings are located, holding up traffic for a short period Tuesday morning.

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Click to play video: 'PSAC strike: Don’t submit passport applications unless urgent, minister says'
PSAC strike: Don’t submit passport applications unless urgent, minister says

Meanwhile, outside the Prime Minister’s Office building and the Treasury Board headquarters a few blocks away, strikers limited entry to just one person every five minutes.

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The escalation in the strike activity comes after a promise by union president Chris Aylward that picket lines would move to more “strategic locations,” including ports of entry where the strike would have a greater economic impact.

The workers set up at the Port of Montreal Monday, delaying the arrival of trucks and causing minor slowdowns.

Click to play video: 'PSAC workers strike in Montreal'
PSAC workers strike in Montreal

“On one hand, they have the right to strike and demonstrate,” Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters Tuesday.

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“On the other hand, we need to make sure that the economy can continue functioning around the country.”

Ministers wouldn’t comment Tuesday on the specifics of the talks with the union, saying instead that those conversations are happening at the bargaining table, where the government is negotiating in good faith.

“I know Canadians would like us to avoid disruption to travel and supply chains, and our focus is to resolve this at the negotiation table,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra of potential disruptions on his way into a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

He said he has been in contact with ports and airports to make sure they have contingency plans in place.

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