Friday, June 21, 2024

Delays loom at Canada’s border as CBSA employees ‘overwhelmingly’ vote in favour of strike

First Published:

Major delays may be on the horizon for Canadians trying to cross the border this summer.

The union representing 9,000 workers at the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) says 96 per cent of its workforce has voted in favour of a strike mandate.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing them, says it could cause “significant disruptions to the flow of goods, services, and people at Canadian ports of entry.”

“Taking job action is always a last resort, but this strong strike mandate underscores that our members are prepared [to] do what it takes to secure a fair contract,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President.

He went on to reference the 2021 strike that CBSA went on, in which 8,500 workers carried out a work-to-rule strike that caused major delays, just days before the COVID-19 travel restrictions were set to be relieved.

“[The] Treasury Board and CBSA must be prepared to come to the table with a fair offer that addresses our key issues,” Aylward added.

READ MORE: Strike mandate looms over Canada’s border as CBSA employees begin vote to take job action

PSAC says they reached an impasse in bargaining back in September of last year after almost two years of negotiations.

Some of the main sticking points include job security, access to remote work, protections around being contracted out and wage parity with other national law enforcement counterparts.

In a PSAC document, the union asserts that the “RCMP is a logical comparator” and compares the rates graduated border services officer make to that of a working constable.

“We’re sending a clear message to the employer: we’re prepared to fight for fair wages, equitable retirement and to make CBSA a better place to work,” said Mark Weber, national president of another union representing border workers.

Statement from federal government

The Treasury Board says it recognizes the validity of the strike action mandate but finds it “unnecessary” at this time.

“The government is fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement for border services employees,” the Treasury Board said in an online statement.

“We have already signed renewed agreements with more than 80 per cent of the public service, and if the union is ready to negotiate in good faith, we can do the same for Border Services group employees.”

The Public Interest Commission is scheduled to hold additional negotiations between the two parties later this month, with mediation set to begin on June 3.

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