As thousands of border officials prepare for a potential strike, Canada’s reopening plan may be hindered.
Two unions representing more than 8,500 Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees announced this morning that most of their members have granted them strike tasks.
The Public Service Union of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) stated in a press release that this means they may start strike action as early as August 6, which means that Canada will reopen its borders to vaccinated people. A few days before the opening for U.S. residents.
Many workers are considered essential, but unions say the strike action may slow down commercial traffic at borders and ports of entry; crack down on international mail and parcel delivery from Canada Post and other major shipping companies; and disrupt the collection of goods entering Canada Duties and taxes.
Union members — no contracts since June 2018 — include border service officials at airports, land entry points, seaports, and commercial ports of entry; inland law enforcement officers; intelligence officers; investigators; trade officers; hearing officers; and Members who do not wear uniforms.
Their basic service agreement allows 2,600 members to take a full strike action, and basic workers can take action to work according to the rules in their workplaces.
The window to avoid strikes “closes quickly”
The union mainly fights 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.
PSAC National Chairman Chris Aylward stated that the union wants the government to return to the negotiating table.
“But their window to avoid a strike is closing quickly,” he said in a statement.
Last week, when the strike vote was underway, a CBSA spokesperson said the agency was preparing for a possible work interruption.
“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.”
Watch | If CBSA agents choose to go on strike, the government is confident in the emergency plan and the minister said:
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.