Border officers begin work-to-rule action as negotiations with government continue

Politics

Border service officers have begun work-to-rule action while unions and the government continue to negotiate a new contract.

Unions have warned that the job action will have a 'dramatic impact' on the border reopening as well as Canada's supply chain.(Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

Border service officers have begun work-to-rule action while unions and the government continue to negotiate a new contract.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) tweeted this morning that bargaining took place throughout night and into the early morning, but a deal has yet to be reached.

"In the meantime, work-to-rule actions have started across the country," the tweet said.

Our FB bargaining team has been at the table all night, and we're giving them a bit more time to negotiate. <br><br>In the meantime, work-to-rule actions have started across the country. We'll provide an update as soon as possible. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cdnpoli</a>

&mdash;@psac_afpc

The union's members — who have been without a contract since June 2018 — include border service officers at airports, land entry points, marine ports and commercial ports of entry, inland enforcement officers, intelligence officers, investigators, trade officers, hearings officers and non-uniformed members.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Board Secretariat told CBC that negotiations are still ongoing and that the government "is still at the table and will not walk away."

President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos tweeted Friday morning that he is "proud of the work of our negotiating team."

"They've been at the table all night and we're still hoping to come to an agreement that is fair and reasonable," he said.

Proud of the work of our negotiating team. <br><br>They've been at the table all night and we're still hoping to come to an agreement that is fair and reasonable with the representatives of border agents.<br><br>We have no intention of leaving the table. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CdnPoli?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CdnPoli</a>

&mdash;@jyduclos

PSAC and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) represent roughly 8,500 border workers. The work-to-rule action will see agents performing only the minimum amount of work required by their contracts.

The work-to-rule strike comes just days before Canada is set to begin easing border restrictions for fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents entering Canada for non-essential purposes.

That change goes into effect on Monday, Aug. 9.

The unions have been fighting primarily for three things: salary parity with other law enforcement workers in Canada; better protections against harassment and discrimination; and a remote work policy for non-uniformed members.

The strike would have a "dramatic impact" on the border reopening as well as Canada's supply chain, the unions have warned.

The border will remain open, since 90 per cent of border agents have been identified as essential workers. However, travellers can expect long lineups and delays at airports and border crossings, the unions say.

A representative from PSAC told CBC on background that some of the actions being taken by its members include stopping the collection of taxes and duties, asking travellers more questions than usual and fully inspecting truck manifests, causing slower processing times.

A spokesperson for PSAC told CBC that the work-to-rule action will continue until a deal is reached.

A sign in support of the union representing border services workers is shown in a vehicle near the Ambassador Bridge on Friday, Aug. 6.(Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Members of the unions voted to strike in late July. The unions say they are seeking better protection against harassment and discrimination, changes to what they call the CBSA's "toxic workplace culture" and better wage parity with other law enforcement agencies.

Earlier this week the CBSA did not say if it expects the type of delays being described by the unions. In a statement, the agency said it said it will "respond quickly to any job action" to ensure the border remains safe and open to legitimate travellers and goods.

Delays expected at busiest Canada-U.S. border crossing

Alissa Howe, president of CIU Local 18 in Windsor, Ont., said earlier this week that border officers will be doing their jobs to the fullest the law will allow.

The Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit is the busiest border crossing between Canada and the U.S., carrying one quarter of all trade between the two countries.

"We'll be asking if you have any pet, plant, meat, animal products, if you have a pet with you, if you have a vaccination certificate," said Howe. "Possibly less lines being open, more questioning, more examination."

Rakesh Naidu, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the free flow of goods and services would be impacted by a job action.

"Even though the border may not be fully closed, it will lead to delays and the delays will cost us," Naidu said.

*****
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

Check Also

Military failing to remove barriers to diversifying ranks: ombudsman

Canada's military ombudsman is joining the chorus of those accusing the Canadian Armed Forces and …