More than 8,500 staff working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have voted to begin strike action as early as Aug. 6 – and are warning that commercial traffic could be slowed at border crossings.
The strike vote was held between June 16 and 23.
“Taking strike action is always a last resort, but we’re grappling with systemic workplace harassment issues that must be addressed,” said Mark Weber, Customs and Immigration Union national president. “The toxic workplace culture at CBSA is taking a heavy toll on the mental health and well-being of our members.”
The Canada-U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least Aug. 21. Trucking continues as an essential service.
In a statement provided to the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) notes that 90% of its border services officers have been identified as essential services if there is a strike.
“CBSA operations will carry on as planned as the agency continues to ensure the safety and security of Canadians while maintaining the flow of goods and services across the border,” the notice says. “However, travelers and businesses could experience an increase in border wait times, picketing outside CBSA premises, and wearing of union-related accessories.”
The CBSA says it has developed “mitigation strategies” to ensure operations continue.
“Our members at CBSA have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, and many have contracted Covid-19 while working,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada president. “They’ve kept our borders safe, screened travelers entering Canada, and ensured the rapid clearance of vaccine shipments. Now it’s time for the government to step up for them the way they’ve stepped up for Canadians.”