The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has filed an unfair labour practices complaint against the union representing taxation employees, claiming it is not bargaining in good faith.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada – Union of Taxation Employees (PSAC-UTE) left the bargaining table on Sept. 1, declaring an impasse in negotiations, then withdrew from mediation on Dec. 20.
On Friday the CRA filed the complaint with the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, asking it to make the union return to the bargaining table before being allowed to declare or authorize a strike.
Three days earlier, the union announced it would be launching strike votes for about 35,000 workers to be conducted from Jan. 31 to April 7, during which time the union and the CRA will also be engaging in Public Interest Commission hearings recommended by the labour board on Jan. 27 and Feb. 20.
The union says it withdrew from mediation because the Treasury Board announced a return-to-work order for all employees just a few days before mediation was set to start, which the CRA chose to comply with even as return-to-work was a key bargaining issue.
It says it asked the CRA to withdraw its return-to-work order and discuss telework during mediation, and when the CRA refused, the union chose to withdraw.
When the union left the bargaining table, the CRA said there were more than 200 outstanding bargaining demands, many of which involve what it deems to be significant costs to the CRA and taxpayers.
The union’s move toward a strike position would affect the tax filing season, the revenue agency said, adding that it’s disappointed in the union’s actions.
The union, in its release announcing the strike votes, said that wages keeping pace with inflation and a sensible remote work policy are critical in reaching a deal with the CRA.