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PSAC Strike: It's right to escalate

April 27, 2023
pic: PSAC
As the PSAC strike of more than 150,000 federal public sector workers enters its second week, the union is escalating its tactics and shifting picket lines to more, ‘strategic locations’ to ramp up pressure on the Liberal government. 
PSAC President Chris Aylward announced on Monday that the union would begin targeting vital infrastructure and members have responded. There have been mass street actions in many cities and pickets at Parliament Hill, MP offices and the Treasury Board building in Ottawa. On Tuesday, workers partially shut the Portage Bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau. 
At many Federal worksites including military facilities and ports, workers have partially or temporarily shut down access. On Wednesday, workers sealed the entrance to the Canadian Forces Base in Kingston, Ontario. 
The union led pickets that temporarily closed the ports in Montreal, Vancouver and St John’s. In Hamilton, union members occupied the lift bridge that controls access in and out of Hamilton harbour, delaying ships from entering. Strikers have built strong picket lines at border crossings including the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor in preparation for more disruptive actions. Hundreds of workers protested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Thursday in a show of strength. 
Majority support
Every major media outlet in the country published stories and editorials denouncing the workers and suggesting that Canadians don’t support the strike. The Ottawa Citizen posted a story with the headline: "'People hate us’: Striking public servants know they don’t have the hearts and minds of Canadians”. The Toronto Sun editorial was titled: "Dear federal workers: Here's why you're despised". 
The problem for the media pundits and editorialists is that they are dead wrong. Angus Reid conducted a surveythat showed a majority of Canadians (65%) support the workers wage demands and their demand to be able to work from home (55%). 
Working people have been under attack as the cost of living has steadily increased. The PSAC members are asking for a 13.5 percent wage increase over 3 years which is still below the recent rate of inflation but higher than the offer from the Liberals who are pushing for 9 percent. Most people know that unless workers start getting substantial wage increases, they will continue to fall behind. PSAC says many of its members have had to resort to using food banks as conditions worsen. 
The money is there
Trudeau and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier have said that they cannot afford to pay the workers because the costs could exceed $3 billion if they met the union demands. But this is the same government that just gave Volkswagen $13 billion to build a new electric vehicle plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. This is the same government that spent $30 billion on a pipelinethat will never be built. This is a government that has committed half a trillion dollars to military spending over the next few years including almost $20 billion for new fighter jets and $300 billion for new warships.
Workers confronted Trudeauduring his Volkswagen photo-op with a banner that read: “$13 billion in corporate subsidy but no money for workers? - SHUT IT DOWN!" Volkswagen made 22 billion Euros in profit in 2022. 
A victory for the PSAC workers can raise the floor for all working people. As we saw with the fight of the education workers in Ontario, who struckin defiance of an anti union law, the mass strike can become a poll of attraction for the millions of workers who are being squeezed by the capitalist system and are looking for path forward. Public support can be built and a left alternative to corporate profiteering and government austerity can emerge within the fight. We must build and join the picket lines wherever possible and argue against right-wing attacks on the workers. We must also be ready to stop any back-to-work legislation that may be brought in by the Liberals or any other federal legislation designed to limit the strike.
The public is on side and the workers deserve a fair deal after many years without a raise or a contract. 
Victory to the PSAC workers! #WorkersCantWait
For background info and a more detailed look at the workers demands, see: Federal government workers are on strike: “We can take on the employer and win”
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