Non-Public Funds workers to strike on Monday if deal isn’t reached

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Almost 500 Non-Public Funds workers will be on strike as of Monday if an agreement on a new contract isn’t reached.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada announced in a news release Thursday that strike action would impact workers on Canadian Forces bases in Bagotville, Kingston, Montreal St-Jean, Petawawa, Valcartier and Ottawa.

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“NPF workers play a pivotal role supporting Canadian military members and their families, but many of them barely make minimum wage and are working two jobs just to make ends meet,” PSAC national president Chris Aylward said in the release. “These workers deserve wages that are on par with the rest of the federal public service.”

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Staff of the Non-Public Funds, a separate agency that forms part of the federal public service, support Canadian Armed Forces members, veterans and their families by delivering morale and various welfare services. They work in retail and food service through the Canadian Forces Exchange System, in financial planning for Canadian Armed Forces members through SISIP financial and in community service, physical fitness and recreation.

Without a contract since 2022, members took part in strike votes from Nov. 20 to Dec. 14. On average, 94 per cent of members voted in favour of strike action.

NPF workers are fighting for fair wages, a national pay grid for workers across Canada and better job security.

Each NPF unit bargains separately with the employer, leading to inconsistent pay grids across bases. PSAC said moving to a national pay grid “would improve wages for NPF members at all military bases and ensure workers get equal pay for equal work.”

“NPF workers are some of the lowest-paid workers in the country, and earn far less than the rest of the federal public service,” Union of National Defence Employees national president June Winger said in the news release. “Workers are demanding respect, and the solution is clear — pay workers fair and decent wages across the country.”

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While NPF staff are federal public service workers, their wages and working conditions were unaffected by the national strike that took place last spring, PSAC said.

“At NPF, we’re treated like second-class workers who get paid less to do the same work as our colleagues elsewhere in the public service,” said Cathy O’Kane, the NPF vice-president with UNDE. “It has taken me more than 30 years to reach the same pay as an entry-level casual worker at the Department of National Defence. I want to make things better for all NPF members so that others don’t have to go through what I did.”

Negotiations continued as of Thursday afternoon.

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