Canada calls public sector workers’ strike demands “unsustainable”; The union urges Trudeau to intervene

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian Treasury Board said on Wednesday that the union representing some 155,000 Canadian striking workers is making “unsustainable” demands, while the union’s president accused the government of stalling.

“We will not sign agreements that the country cannot afford, nor agreements that severely affect our ability to provide services to Canadians,” the Treasury Board, which oversees public administration, said in a statement.

A strike by federal government workers, represented by the Canadian Public Service Alliance, entered its eighth day on Wednesday, affecting services ranging from tax returns to passport renewals.

Confederation President Chris Aylward called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to participate in the negotiations and give the Treasury Board a new mandate.

“He can either step in personally and help settle this dispute or turn his back on the striking workers,” Aylward told reporters on Parliament Hill.

“We’ll stay here as long as it takes,” he added, as workers around him chanted.

Aylward accused the government of stalling the negotiations. Earlier Wednesday, the union said it had escalated the strike, closing ports in Vancouver, Montreal and St. John’s.

Port authorities in Vancouver and Montreal said they were operating normally.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday, Trudeau urged everyone at the negotiating table to negotiate in good faith.

“Understanding the importance of standing up for collective bargaining rights, people’s rights to work – that’s something really important to our government,” he said.

“So yeah, it’s frustrating to know that Canadians may, as the days go by, have more difficulty accessing services, but it’s motivating for everyone to try and fix this problem.”

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(Cover) By Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa

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