Thousands of border officials are considering a strike, and the border reopening plan faces obstacles
Due to the threat of strike action, the federal government’s plan to reopen the border to vaccinated American citizens next month may become complicated.
This week, more than 8,500 Canadian Border Services Agency officials (who have not had a contract since June 2018) are voting to decide whether they are willing to withdraw.
If more than half of the people vote yes, they may go on strike in early August—just as the country is ready to once again welcome fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents.
Although some CBSA officials will be considered essential staff, the strike may cause substantial delays for those travelling by air and land.
“This may slow things down,” said Mark Weber, national chairman of the Customs and Immigration Union.
“We did not have any joy in doing this, because we really want the border to run smoothly. For a year and a half, we have been working hard to ensure that we can run smoothly under the most difficult conditions that any of us encounters. Encountered.”
Weber said the union is fighting for three things: wage equality with other law enforcement officers in Canada, better prevention of harassment and discrimination, and a remote work policy for non-uniformed members.
He said that harassment at work has made CBSA “a very cold and dark place” to work.
Weber said that although the union does not want to cause difficulties for Canadians and tourists at the border, it feels it has encountered obstacles in the negotiation.
Weber said: “Seeing it reach this point is not a moment we like, but the other party who refuses to really bargain after three years. We really have no choice.”
“We have been working hard to keep the border running smoothly and we are doing this work every day. No one wants to see it blown up.”
Expected influx at ports of entry
A CBSA spokesperson said the agency is preparing for possible work interruptions.
“The Canadian Border Services Agency will respond quickly to any work action/work interruption to maintain the security of our borders, ensure compliance with our laws, and facilitate the flow of legal goods and travel,” Luis-Carl Brissett Lesage (Louis-Carl Brissette Lesage) said in a statement. Send an email to CBC News.
“We hope that our officials will continue to perform their duties with the highest level of integrity and professionalism.”
The vote for union members will end on Thursday, and results are expected early next week.
If most union members vote “yes”, the strike will not be triggered automatically. It will give the union the task of strike and provide a range of options for the negotiating team to put pressure on the CBSA-such as working according to the rules or rotating, comprehensive or strategic strikes.
On Monday, the federal government announced plans to allow vaccinated tourists to visit Canada again soon.
Starting at 12:01 AM Eastern Time on August 9, fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents living in the country will be able to visit Canada.
The government said it plans to open the Canadian border to vaccinated travelers from all other countries on September 7.