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February 16, 1999
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Pickets slow morning rush
Hundreds of workers wait to get into the Revenue Canada building at Bay and Front Sts. yesterday, as members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada stage an information picket. Other people were delayed throughout the day.

Civil servants stage demonstration

Revenue Canada entrances blocked over wage dispute

By Natalia Williams
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Federal civil servants blocked entrances at Revenue Canada offices yesterday, as part of a country-wide rotating strike to pressure the government for wage increases.

Early yesterday morning, hundreds of government employees at the Front and Bay St. building were delayed for an hour by about 30 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Throughout the day, couriers and members of the public were asked wait two minutes before entering.

The information picket was organized to highlight the 14,500 ``blue collar'' workers, who have had only one 3 per cent salary increase since a federal government wage freeze in 1991.

The union is asking for a wage increase from the $12.80 hourly average, in addition to a standard national rate of pay for workers across the country.

``Our main objective is to get the (Treasury Board) to the table and to start talking,'' said Doug Kosakowski, PSAC regional representative.

The workers involved include maintenance, general labour and trade workers.

Their contract expired in 1997, and the union has been trying since then to negotiate a collective agreement.

The union staged another protest about three weeks ago in three different federal offices across the city.

There has been no response from the Treasury Board, and the union is ready to step up the pressure, said Diana Gee, strike captain and president of the union of taxation employees.

``We're not going to be as accommodating. We have to start making a larger impact.''

Gee said federal workers in Vancouver make about $3 an hour more than those in Toronto.

Those in Halifax make about $2 an hour less than the Toronto average.

``There's absolutely no consistency at all,'' she said.

Kosakowski said public service workers make an average of $4.50 an hour less than private sector workers in similar jobs.

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