A nationwide civil servant strike entered its second day Wednesday, with 115,000 workers remaining on the picket line as both sides returned to the bargaining table confident that a deal is close.
Three bargaining units - one at the Canada Revenue Agency and in two the Treasury Board - remain on strike, meaning a second day of long lines and slow service at federal institutions such as Revenue Canada and Transport Canada.
"This is difficult for everybody," Lise Jolicoeur, a spokeswoman for Treasury Board President Reg Alcock, told globeandmail.com. "This is difficult for the workers and their families. It is difficult for Canadians who are not getting the services that they deserve.
"Fortunately this is something that will not be forever. We thank Canadians for their patience during this time."
Ms. Jolicouer said the Treasury Board was back at the bargaining table Wednesday morning with the belief that talks are headed in the right direction.
"I'm not sure how long it will take, but both teams are looking for a quick solution to this," she said. "They're trying to find something that is of value to both parties."
PSAC president Nycole Turmel expressed similar sentiments Tuesday, saying progress in negotiations made her believe the strike would not last long.
"We're not talking about weeks here, we're talking about hours and days." she said.
Contract talks have been complex and slow-moving, with the Treasury Board bargaining with six different PSAC sectors covering 26 occupational groups.
Tuesday afternoon, PSAC announced a deal had been struck with about 10,000 employees in the Operational Services Group who work as general labourers at such facilities as correctional institutions.
On Monday night, a tentative agreement was reached with 5,000 Parks Canada workers. The deal is a four-year contract with retroactive increases of 2.5, 2.25, 2.4 and 2.5 per cent.
At midnight on Monday, PSAC members who had not reached an agreement were in a legal strike position. Talks between the two sides have been going on round the clock since last Thursday.
Salaries have been the main sticking point between the two sides. The government had offered a 6-per-cent raise over three years, but the union wanted 9 per cent, which had been recommended by a conciliation board drawn from both sides.
PSAC has also argued that its blue-collar workers face a 20-per-cent wage gap in comparison with their private-sector counterparts.
The last major PSAC strike hit in 1991, when 100,000 striking clerical workers and secretaries walked off the job. They were legislated back by the government of prime minister Brian Mulroney after three weeks with a 3-per-cent raise over three years.