Canada Border Services Agency union members vote in favour of strike

Treasury Board 'committed to reaching fair contract'

Canada Border Services Agency union members vote in favour of strike

Just ahead of the summer, unionized border workers have voted in favour of a strike.

More than 9,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)-Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) who work for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) voted 96% in favour of taking job action.

The workers are seeking: 

  • “fair wages that are aligned with other law enforcement agencies across the country”
  • flexible telework and remote work options
  • “equitable” retirement benefits 
  • stronger protections around discipline, technological change and hours of work

“Our members' response to this vote has been unprecedented – we extended the voting period to meet the overwhelming demand from workers,” said Mark Weber, Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) national president. “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.”

The strike vote was held April 10 to May 23, 2024.

Treasury Board ‘committed’ to reaching agreement

CBSA and the unions last met at a Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearing on April 22. The commission’s report is expected to be released before mediation sessions scheduled to begin June 3. 

PSAC-CIU will be in a legal strike position following the release of the report.

“We’re committed to reaching a fair contract that protects workers and improves working conditions for our members,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “As summer travel season nears, we hope the Trudeau Liberal government is making these negotiations a top priority. The window to avert a strike is closing quickly.”

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat believes that both parties can still reach an agreement, and said the government is “fully committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement for border services employees”.

In April, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 applied to the Ontario Ministry of Labour to request that a conciliator be appointed to step in into their negotiation with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). TTC workers will go on a full strike on June 7 if an agreement isn't reached with management, according to a CBC report.

Border services at airports, marine ports

The Border Services (FB) bargaining unit is responsible for protecting Canada’s borders and the planning, development, delivery, inspection and control of people and goods entering Canada. 

PSAC-CIU members at CBSA include border services officers at airports, land entry points, marine ports, and commercial ports of entry, inland enforcement officers, intelligence officers, investigators, trade officers, and non-uniformed headquarters staff. 

In August 2021, border workers – including CBSA personnel – launched work-to-rule actions that “nearly brought commercial cross-border traffic to a standstill, causing major delays at airports and borders across the country,” noted PSAC. 

Currently, PSAC and CIU – in collaboration with the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) – are initiating a study to explore potential cancer risks among Canadian border workers, according to a CBC report. The research addresses long-time agent concerns that long-term exposure to environmental pollutants, especially diesel fumes from freight trucks, may be impacting the health of these employees.

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