Travelers and commercial traffic entering Canada should expect long lineups and lengthy delays at border crossings and airports starting Friday, as nearly 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees begin job action across the country.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) served strike notice to the government Tuesday.
“We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract with the government,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “Treasury Board and CBSA have been clear they aren’t prepared to address critical workplace issues at CBSA at the bargaining table.”
Sweeping work-to-rule strike activity will take place at all Canadian airports, land borders, commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and headquarters locations and could have a dramatic impact on Canada’s supply chain and the government’s plans to reopen the border to U.S. travelers on Aug. 9.
“We’ve continued to serve Canadians throughout the pandemic – keeping our borders safe, screening travellers for COVID-19 and clearing vital vaccine shipments,” said Mark Weber, CIU national president. “Now it’s time for the government to step up for CBSA employees.”
Unionized employees with PSAC and CIU have been without a contract for over three years. They are seeking better protections against a toxic workplace culture at CBSA, and greater parity with other law enforcement agencies across Canada. The union declared impasse in December and applied for a Public Interest Commission hearing after CBSA and Treasury Board were unwilling to address these core issues.
The commission released its recommendations for both parties to reach a deal, including many improvements to the working conditions of CBSA employees.
The two sides will return to the table on Aug. 6, but work-to-rule action will begin at 6 a.m. EDT across the country if a new contract isn’t negotiated.
During work-to-rule strike action, CBSA employees will obey all of the policies, procedures and laws applying to their work, and perform their duties to “the letter of the law”. This may cause long and unavoidable delays at Canada’s borders.
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