FAQ: CRA strike votes

Strike votes sessions

The session is full, how do I vote?

Virtual sessions are an option if any in-person sessions are full. If necessary, PSAC will increase the capacity of virtual sessions to accommodate demand.

I'm a casual employee at CRA. Can I still vote?

Casual employees are not part of the bargaining unit so they cannot vote.

After I register, when can I cast my vote?

Members can vote at any point, until April 7 at 12 p.m., once they have attended an information session either in-person or virtually. Votes can be cast online and accommodations are available if applicable.

Can I attend a virtual strike vote information session?

Every PSAC-UTE member has access to virtual sessions. Within PSAC's voting platform, under “type”, members can choose in-person or virtual to filter their choice.

Bargaining updates

What is the status of negotiations for PSAC-UTE workers?

We began the bargaining process in the spring of 2021 with the input call for bargaining proposals In April, we held the PSAC-UTE bargaining conference to align our priorities before we began negotiations in winter 2022. Since then, we have met with Canada Revenue Agency in six separate sessions and spent nearly 17 days at that bargaining table with the employer.

After more than a year of negotiations with Canada Revenue Agency, PSAC-UTE made the difficult decision to declare impasse with the government after they failed to come to the table with a mandate that would protect workers from skyrocketing inflation in Canada or address other key issues at the table, including remote work. PSAC headed to mediation with the government in December, but talks broke off after the government arbitrarily imposed a flawed hybrid work plan on all federal public service workers.

Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearings are now scheduled to take place January 27 and February 20.

If PSAC can’t reach an agreement with the government following the PIC process, PSAC-UTE members could take job action. Taking strike action is always a last resort, but we should be prepared to fight for a fair contract that makes sure workers don’t fall behind.

What are the outstanding issues at the table?

During the past year of negotiations, this government has failed to address any of our key bargaining issues — not the least of which is fair wages that protect workers from skyrocketing inflation. They've also rejected or ignored proposals on many of our key issues, including provisions for remote work in the collective agreement, job security, new protections in the context of hours of work and better work-life balance. Many of these improvements have been agreed to by other federal employers since we settled our last contract.

PSAC-UTE has put forward a comprehensive wage offer that would protect our members from inflation and provide fair pay that recognizes the work we do for Canadians. But CRA has not put forward a wage offer, which is downright insulting and sets workers back.

Other key issues include:

Work-life balance: Increased work-life balance for PSAC-UTE members at CRA is a priority. Members have gone above and beyond over the past two years. The PSAC-UTE negotiating team made it clear that employees are looking for additional paid time to take care of themselves and their families.

Job security: The Agency has repeatedly tried to contract out the work of PSAC-UTE members to private firms. Research has shown that privatization and contracting out means higher costs, more risk, and reduced quality of services. PSAC-UTE will be seeking new language in the collective agreement that will protect our work and our jobs, including improvements to the Workforce Adjustment Appendix.

Hours of work: The team is seeking language to further protect against evening, weekend and shift work, and greater compensation when such work is required. The team also believes that years of service should be recognized at the Agency beyond vacation accrual.

Remote work: The team will be seeking better protections and rights in the context of telework and remote work. Remote work has become a part of everyday life for the vast majority of our members, and it’s time to look to the future by enshrining it into our collective agreements.

What is a Public Interest Commission hearing?

Under the law that governs contract negotiations in the federal public service, a Public Interest Commission (PIC) is established to help the parties reach an agreement once impasse is declared at the bargaining table.

The PIC is a panel of three people — a chairperson appointed by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board and nominees appointed by the union and the employer. Each side presents briefs to explain their positions on the outstanding issues at a hearing and the PIC issues a report with non-binding recommendations for reaching a settlement.

Once the PIC releases its report, the union will meet to discuss the recommendations at which point the parties typically return to the table to resume negotiations with the employer.

A strike cannot be called until PSAC-UTE receives the PIC report.

Is my existing collective agreement still in effect during the bargaining process?

The current collective agreements expired on October 31, 2021. However, the terms of the collective agreement continue to apply after they expire and until a new collective agreement is signed.

About strike votes

I am currently on leave. Am I eligible to vote?

All employees in the bargaining unit are eligible to vote in strike votes, even if they are currently on leave with or without pay. This includes parental leave, long-term disability leave and sick leave.

What does a strike vote mean?

Calling a strike vote is a tactic in the union’s toolbox that we can use to put additional pressure on the employer to reach a deal. A “yes” vote means giving PSAC a mandate to authorize strike action as a possible escalation if the employer does not appropriately address our bargaining demands

How does a strike vote impact the bargaining process?

PSAC is seeking a strike mandate from PSAC-UTE members to increase the pressure on Canada Revenue Agency to reach a fair deal for workers. All members will have the opportunity to participate in strike votes before any further action is taken.

You can register for a strike vote session here.

Even if a majority of PSAC members vote in favour of a strike, it doesn’t mean we immediately walk off the job. The actual timing of any strike action is established by PSAC and UTE and must be ultimately authorized by PSAC’s national president.

If members vote in favour of a strike mandate, our union will be in a legal position to call strike action seven days after the Public Interest Commission has released its report. Public Interest Commissions hearings are scheduled to take place January 27 and February 20 of 2023, and we expect to receive the PIC reports by early spring 2023.

Could we end up going on strike this round of negotiations?

Taking strike action is always a last resort, but we should be prepared to fight for a fair contract that ensures workers don’t fall behind in the face of inflation, offers better work-life balance and protects our jobs from contracting out.

Canada Revenue Agency has refused to provide a wage offer to protect workers from rising inflation and has serious concessions on the table that impact members’ rights. To add insult to injury, the government has mandated a flawed hybrid work policy for all CRA workers while we’re negotiating remote work at the bargaining table.

We're asking members for a strike mandate to put additional pressure on the government to reach a fair contract.

A strong strike mandate is the best way to reach a settlement quickly.

What would a potential strike look like?

Once a majority of a bargaining unit votes in favour of a strike mandate, PSAC’s national president can call a strike. Workers are in a legal strike position 72 hours after announcing the strike.

Being in a strike position doesn’t necessarily mean everyone in the bargaining unit walks out for a full-blown general strike right away. We can also take strike action in a lot of different ways, including:

  • Strategic strike: A work stoppage by 10 per cent of the bargaining unit at several key locations that will have the greatest impact.
  • Rotating strike: A series of surprise, one-day walkouts at strategic locations, worksites, work units, departments, etc.
  • General strike: A cessation of work by all PSAC members in a particular bargaining unit. (General strike pay provisions apply.)
  • Work to rule: When workers obey all the laws and rules applying to their work but perform their work more slowly or follow “the letter of the law” to stall productivity.
How soon could we go on strike?

If we are unable to reach an agreement with CRA, the earliest PSAC-UTE members could go on strike would be spring of 2023.

Here’s what’s likely to happen over the next few months:

  • Continue to ramp up our workplace action to pressure the government to offer a fair deal;
  • Members attend information sessions and participate in strike votes, which may take six to eight weeks to complete;
  • Receive the PIC report in early spring 2023;
  • Because of regulations governing the federal public service, we can only go on strike seven days after the release of the Public Interest Commission report, and must call a strike within 60 days of a favourable strike vote.

The best way to avoid a strike is to make sure we prepare for one by sending a strong message to the employer.

What do we have to gain by going on strike?

While there has not been a large federal public service strike since 2001, strikes by PSAC members in the past brought about major improvements that members enjoy today.

  • In 1980, tens of thousands of PSAC members launched a strike against Pierre Trudeau’s Liberals leading to groundbreaking maternity leave benefits and, soon after, the 93 per cent top-up.
  • In 1991, PSAC members walked off the job in the largest strike in Canadian history up to that point and brought about major gains in job security through what is known today as the Workforce Adjustment Directive.
  • In 2001, the ‘Workless Wednesdays’ strike against Jean Chrétien’s Liberals led to the current Treasury Board policy requiring the conversion of term employees to indeterminate status after three years. It also led to the creation of the Joint Learning Program, which has resulted in major improvements in combating discrimination and harassment and addressing mental health in the workplace.
  • In 2021, FB members held a work-to-rule strike which lasted one day, and won workers an 8 per cent wage increase, better protections against excessive discipline in the workplace, leave improvements and paid meal compensation for uniformed officers
  • In 2022, 170 members at the Office of the Auditor General went on strike for 128 days – a long, difficult strike that put an incredible strain on their employer and ultimately won members, among other achievements, a revamp of their pay grid and paid domestic violence leave.

Pay during a strike

What will happen to my pay?

Interruptions in pay would be unlikely. If we did take strike action, past practice shows that the employer would likely recover wages for struck work after a settlement is reached.

Will I receive strike pay?

Strike pay for both regular and strategic strikes are governed by Regulation 6 in PSAC’s Constitution. Members are expected to provide a minimum of four hours of work per day in support of the strike to qualify for strike pay.

Members who usually work 20 hours or more each week will receive the strike pay below.

Members who work in Yukon: $103.20 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $516.00

Members who work in Northwest Territories: $117.35 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $586.75

Members who work in Nunavut: $141.00 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $705.00

Elsewhere in Canada: $75.00 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $375.00

PSAC members who usually work less than 20 works per week will receive the strike pay below.

Members who work in Yukon: $72.24 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $361.20

Members who work in Northwest Territories: $82.15 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $410.75

Members who work in Nunavut: $98.70 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $493.50

Elsewhere in Canada: $53.00 per day, for a maximum per calendar week of $265.00

In the case of a ‘strategic strike’—that is, a targeted strike involving no more than 10% of the bargaining unit and lasting no longer than two weeks—strike pay will be 60% of a member’s gross salary.

Some PSAC locals may choose to top-up members’ strike pay

Is strike pay taxable?

Strike pay is not considered taxable income by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Will I be affected by Phoenix if we go on strike?

Based on past precedents and expert advice, we don't anticipate Phoenix complications. Members will likely continue to receive pay from the employer while on strike and have pay deducted only after the strike concludes and leave without pay requests are submitted and processed. These leave requests are no more likely to be affected by Phoenix than any other leave submission throughout the year.

It's important to remember the Pay Centre is staffed by PSAC members who will be well prepared for the influx of leave submissions in the event of strike action. Members will enter any time missed due to job action in their departmental PeopleSoft upon return to office, and these requests may even be given special attention. Additionally, members will receive strike pay from PSAC if they meet minimum participation requirements during the strike period, which are not processed through the Phoenix system. Some components and locals also offer strike pay top ups.

What if I can’t afford to go on strike?

Don’t worry. Your union has a lot of support systems in place to make sure you never go without pay while you’re on strike.

Leading up to a potential strike, we encourage members to create a financial plan. This could involve contacting your financial institution to discuss consolidating or renegotiating loans and to request interest relief for loans and mortgages during the period of the strike. This plan could also include building up emergency savings, buying food in bulk ahead of time and exploring other sources of income on a short-term basis.


Can my already approved leave be cancelled once strike action is called?  

The employer may choose to cancel your leave even if it has already been approved, because during a strike no collective agreement is in force.   

What if I am already on leave when strike action begins?

Based on the employer’s current policy, employees in the striking bargaining unit who are on leave when the strike begins may be allowed to continue on leave, but additional leave is not likely to be approved.  

What about sick leave and "other leave with or without pay" ?   

Employees in the striking bargaining unit who are on sick leave or "other leave with or without pay" before the start of the strike should be permitted to continue on leave, subject to continuing satisfactory proof that they meet the conditions for the granting of the leave. 

If my bargaining unit is on strike and I am presently on maternity and/or parental leave, am I still entitled to this leave?  What happens to my top-up?

Your entitlement to maternity or parental leave is established by legislation and therefore continues during the period of a strike.  Your entitlement to the salary top-up is established under the collective agreement and during the period of a strike, no collective agreement is in existence. The employer could therefore choose not to pay the top-up, however the employer’s own policy states that employees on “other leave with or without pay” prior to the start of the strike should be permitted to continue on leave. 

Acting positions

What if I'm on an acting assignment outside of the PSAC-UTE bargaining unit?

If you are on an acting assignment, you are not eligible to participate in the strike vote or take strike action.

Essential employees

What is an Essential Services Agreement?

An essential services agreement (ESA) is a process where the union and the employer identify if positions in a bargaining unit have essential duties and/or responsibilities. This would mean they could potentially not participate fully during a strike because the removal of their essential duties could endanger the safety or security of the public.

While the employer decides which functions should be deemed essential, the union can make arguments against how many members are required and what exact duties they will perform while working. Ultimately, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board will rule on these differences. You will be notified if your position is deemed essential once we reach a strike position.

If I'm deemed essential, can I still take part in strike activities?

Definitely! While you can’t walk off the job or fail to perform your duties, you can support your colleagues in other ways. You can wear buttons in the workplace, take part in picket lines when you aren’t working, volunteer for phone banks, and any other mobilization activity that doesn’t impact your work schedule.

Term employees

What if I am a term employee during a strike?

A strike does not constitute a break in service and will not impact your contract.

Next steps

Will we have strike preparation courses?

PSAC is committed to ensuring members are informed about and prepared for a possible strike. Strike preparation courses are available at PSAC regional offices across the country.

PSAC has also developed an online strike preparation course that members can complete at their own pace.

The three-hour, self-led course will help members learn more about what strikes are, how they work, and where they fit in the bargaining process. Other topics covered include:

  • How strikes can make major gains for workers
  • PSAC strikes that our members won during the pandemic
  • The basic structure of strikes at PSAC
  • Strike logistics, including strike pay and essential services
  • What you can do right now to ensure we win a fair contract
Can we take part in job action before we’re in a strike position?

We’re already organizing activities to show the government that we’re serious about getting a fair deal. Activities may start small but grow to bigger, high-visibility actions. Check your union bulletin board or sign up for news from PSAC to find out what’s being organized in your region.

Some examples of workplace action include:

  • Encouraging members to wear ‘Strike Alert’ stickers and display other mobilization materials in the workplace;
  • Heavily advertising strike training in and around the office (or digital workspace);
  • Holding workplace membership meetings to inform and organize;
  • Organizing large lunchtime rallies just outside the workplace or online.
How can I get involved and support our bargaining teams?

Getting involved and taking action are key as we push for a fair contract. Be prepared, get mobilized, stay engaged, and be ready to take action:

  • Register to attend a strike vote session
  • Attend PSAC-UTE national and regional events
  • Participate in actions, information sessions, lunch and learns, and workshops
  • Get in touch with your regional office to get involved

Keep your contact information up to date to receive all the latest bargaining updates.

January 13, 2023