PSAC union leader facing criminal charges amid escalating police crackdown on striking civilian military workers

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) denounces yesterday’s arrest of Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President for PSAC’s National Capital Region, at a picket line for striking Non-Public Funds (NPF) workers.  

Silas was released late Wednesday on five charges under Criminal Code of Canada.

These charges – imposed while hundreds of civilian military workers picketed outside the Department of National Defence’s Joint Intelligence Operations Centre in Ottawa – represent a blatant attempt to stifle the rights of workers to take legal strike action.  

“These heavy-handed, excessive and unnecessary police tactics are an attack on workers meant to silence their voices and weaken their bargaining power,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “PSAC will vehemently oppose these allegations in court and defend the rights of all workers to take lawful strike action.” 

More than 500 NPF workers have been on strike since January 15 advocating for fair wages in line with the core public service, a national pay grid for all NPF workers across the country, and better job security.  

“It's also deeply concerning this government continues to bring in uniformed military personnel as scab labour to replace our members’ jobs,” said Aylward. “Trudeau’s government promises to pass anti-scab legislation, yet they continue to bring in replacement workers to do the work of some of the lowest paid workers in Canada.” 

“We’ve seen countless times how the use of replacement workers drags out labour disputes and divides communities by pitting workers against each other.” 

Canada’s unions fully support PSAC’s fight to protect workers’ legal right to strike. Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President Bea Bruske discussed the matter with Minister of Labour and Seniors Seamus O’Regan Wednesday. Bruske reinforced the legal right of all unionized workers to take strike action and reiterated the need for this government to swiftly bring anti-scab legislation into force. 

NPF workers on strike are federal public service workers who provide critical support services on military bases across Ontario and Quebec. They are employed by Non-Public Funds, which is operated by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), a separate federal agency. 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) represents nearly 230,000 workers across Canada. The Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) is a component union of PSAC representing over 18,000 public and private sector workers at the Department of National Defence — including nearly 500 striking NPF workers.



February 8, 2024