OTTAWA — The union representing Canada’s 4,800 border workers is calling for nationwide demonstrations nationwide this Thurs. June 19 to protest what it says are lackluster negotiation efforts by Canada Customs.
It remains unclear whether the Customs Excise Union‘s "day of action" would be concentrated in the Ottawa area as well s at border crossing locations across the country.
The union and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are at a stalemate over a new contract. Unresolved issues are related to workers’ salary and job security.
The union reportedly wants 30 percent salary hike over three years, but CBSA’s latest offer is less than two percent over four years.
Also, the union is upset that CBSA is not prepared to extend full job security to workers that do not qualify to carry firearms.
After years of lobbying by the union, the Harper government agreed to give Canadian border cops sidearms, like their American counterparts. However, Ottawa will not guarantee jobs to those workers who fail the gun licensing exam or are disqualified for medical or security reasons.
"Our team made it clear that CBSA’s response is totally unacceptable and that there will need to be clear protections in our new contract in the context of the arming initiative," the union told members in a communiqué.
Last week, union leader Marie-Claire Coupal told media that the union would not call for an official work slowdown at international border crossings, but in case disgruntled workers act on their own, truckers and travelers should expect a "a long, hot summer."
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