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Picket lines go up on Vancouver Island as PSAC workers go on strike

Picket lines are up at more than 250 locations across the country today as the federal government’s largest union goes on strike.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada says not enough progress has been made on important issues like wages, remote work, and job security.

The union, which represents 155,000 employees, has been asking for 13.5 per cent more over three years, Ottawa has offered nine per cent.

Picket lines were up on Vancouver Island as the strike began, with many outside 19 Wing Comox on a blustery west coast day.

Union of National Defence Employees 21007 president Camille Soper says they also had people from Service Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture Canada and DFO employees in addition of UND employees picketing.

Soper estimates around 150 to 200 people came out on strike between 6 a.m. and around 1:30 p.m. She adds they are hoping for fair wages.

“We have several collective agreements and the big thing for our operational services is the wage disparity,” said Soper. “We’ve got carpenters and plumbers, and these are Red Seal tradesmen that are capped at a $35 an hour salary.”

Soper says they are looking for public support as they are on strike especially with the high cost of living on Vancouver Island and in the Comox Valley.

“The reality is that most public servants are paid between $40,000 to $60,000 a year and with the way things are, [that’s] not a big amount,” added Soper.

About 40,000 employees across are considered essential and will remain on the job such as firefighters, border officials, and prison guards.

The walkout is expected to affect many federal services, such as passports, employment insurance, and income tax refunds.

But the May 1 deadline for filing your income taxes remains in place.

With files from Norman Jack, Vista Radio

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