BY KEITH LACEY
Close to 1,400 unionized workers at Sudbury?s Taxation Centre could be on the picket line next week if the federal government?s Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) doesn?t improve its financial offer.
Unless CRA management drastically improves its current wage offer of five per cent over three years (2 per cent in the first year and 1.5 per cent in the last two years), and addresses other issues such as job security, close to 1,400 employees at the Sudbury Taxation Centre will hit the picket lines, said Linda Morgan, vice-president of Local 42, Union of Taxation Employees for the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).
The union will be in a legal strike position starting Wednesday.
?It looks to me like we?re probably going to have to strike because there hasn?t been any bargaining in good faith by the employer to this point so far,? Morgan said.
Since 1991, wages for CRA employees have increased by just over 19 per cent, which is significantly lower than the Consumer Price Index (31 per cent), the average of other public sector increases (26 per cent) or average private sector increases (31 per cent), said Morgan.
The union?s national bargaining team is demanding wage increases of just under 14 per cent over three years, as well as a guaranteed cost of living allowance increase, said Morgan.
?Since 1991...our wage increases have been completely out of range of private sector employees and other public sector workers,? said Morgan. ?We?re falling far behind and we?re determined to get a fair deal that brings us back a little this time around.?
PSAC members haven?t negotiated any cost of living allowance in previous contracts, but they?re determined to get one during this round of negotiations, said Morgan.
?The basics in life like, rent, food, hydro and heat, keep going up, but our membership keeps falling behind. We?re fully prepared to take strike action to ensure we get a fair deal this time around.?
A federal conciliation board report released Tuesday supports the union?s position and that?s encouraging, said Morgan.
The board?s report makes it clear that ability to pay is not an issue for the federal government and that other government sectors have enjoyed significantly larger wage increases, she said.
The taxation centre is one of the city?s largest employers.