Canada's public sector strike ended Wednesday after nine days of clogged border crossings, delayed air traffic and paralyzed grain exports, as 70,000 employees agreed to return to work while their union resumes talks with the government.
About 70,000 members of the 156,000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada walked out Sept. 9, seeking higher pay. They returned to work after the government agreed to suspend back-to-work legislation that carried stiff fines.
But union leader Daryl Bean urged his membership to keep their placards by their desks in case the government bargains in bad faith when contract negotiations resume next week.
Treasury Board President Gilles Loiselle said he is determined to freeze their wages this year and impose increases of 3% in each of the next two years to help control inflation and slash the huge budget deficit.
But the Conservative government might be prepared to sweeten other areas of the three-year contract, he said.
"We took difficult decisions at budget time and we are going to follow them," Loiselle told reporters. "But in collective agreements there are many other aspects than (wages)."