Hundreds of workers on strike at Ontario, Quebec military bases

Unions call for increased wages, ‘equitable pay scale’ job security

Hundreds of workers on strike at Ontario, Quebec military bases

Nearly 500 workers at military bases in Ontario and Quebec are on the picket line today as negotiations between the union and the government broke off.

The strike affects workers at the Petawawa, Kingston, Valcartier, Montreal St-Jean, and Bagotville bases – along with other employees whose jobs are in Ottawa – who deliver programs through Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), according to a CBC report.

Negotiations between the Public Service Alliance of Canada - Union of National Defense Employees (PSAC-UNDE) and the Staff of the Non-Public funds continued last week with zero progress, according to the union. The union is seeking fair wages, a national pay grid and secure jobs for their members. Their members, the union said, are “some of the lowest paid workers in the federal public service”.

“Because this employer refuses to provide our members with fair wages in line with the core public service and to address longstanding issues with wildly inconsistent wages at military bases across the country, our negotiations team has broken off talks.”

On top of that, just before today’s strike, the employer said that it will be “rescinding maternity leave top-ups for people on maternity leave,” said PSAC.

“This is a blatant attempt to break the solidarity of our members and discourage you from exercising your legal right to strike.”

Recently, the Front Commun – a coalition of unions representing more than 420,000 public sector workers in Quebec – tentatively agreed to a 17.4% salary increase over five years for the workers.

‘No way they could actually function’

This strike action is sure to cause a lot of trouble to the affected workplaces, according to union official.

"It's absolutely critical [work that they do]," said June Winger, national president for UNDE, which is a component of the PSAC. said, according to CBC.

"The military have their own family and their own way of life, really, on these bases. And without [those employees] there to help them with that, there is no way that they could actually function."

Meanwhile, CFMWS said it regrets they couldn't reach a deal with the union, and it’s hoping to come to an agreement with the union soon, according to the report.

"We remain open to further negotiations to reach an agreement as required and we remain committed to a swift and positive outcome for all parties involved," said Ian Poulter, the CEO for CFMWS. 

"We are steadfast in our commitment to our Canadian Armed Forces communities and hope to mitigate any disruptions to services as much as possible."

Thousands of Canadian workers walked off their jobs throughout the country in the first half of 2023. In August, two experts warned that more strike actions might be on the way.

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