Border workers send strike notice to government, union action set to start Friday: union

OTTAWA – About 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency workers prepare to take work actions across the country on Friday, say travelers should expect long lines and delays at border crossings and airports.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union, which represent the workers, said it served strike notice on the government on Tuesday and is now preparing its workers to mount the job. closed off.

If a contract is not reached at 6 a.m. on Friday, the union said its members would begin a series of “high-profile” actions at Canadian airports, land borders, commercial ports, postal facilities and head offices.

“We really hoped that we would not be forced to strike, but we have exhausted all other avenues to achieve a fair contract with the government,” Chris Aylward, national president of the union, said in a statement.

“The Treasury Board and the CBSA have made it clear that they are not prepared to address critical CBSA workplace issues at the bargaining table.”

The Treasury Board of Canada said the federal government asked the federal labor relations body on Tuesday to appoint a mediator. He said he has confirmed that one will be named.

“The Government of Canada has great respect for border services officers and the important work they do and remains committed to reaching agreements with all bargaining agents that are fair to employees, aware of the economic and fiscal environment of today and reasonable for Canadian taxpayers, ”we read. a statement from the Treasury Board of Canada

“The Government of Canada has reached agreements covering 95 percent of the federal unionized workforce for this round of bargaining and is confident that an offer has been made that provides a reasonable basis on which to reach a settlement.

Ninety percent of frontline border workers have been identified as essential, so they will continue to provide services in the event of a strike, the CBSA said in an email.

The CBSA “will respond quickly to any intervention / work disruption in order to maintain the safety and security of our border, to ensure our laws are respected and to keep the border open to legitimate travelers and goods,” said the CBSA. spokesperson Jacqueline Callin.

The dispute comes as Canada prepares to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit without having to quarantine themselves from August 9 and will open the country’s borders to travelers from other countries with the required doses of a COVID vaccine -19 September 7.

PSAC-SDI represents 5,500 border services officers, 2,000 headquarters employees and other workers at Canada Post facilities and in inland law enforcement jobs employed by CBSA and Treasury Board Secretariat.

Union members have been without contracts for about three years because they and their employers failed to agree on better protections for staff which the union said would bring them into line with other staff members. law enforcement officials across Canada and tackle a “toxic” workplace. culture.

Union members voted last month to strike as early as Friday if the two sides failed to come to an agreement, prompting their employers to agree to return to the bargaining table.

The union said a public interest commission formed when the two sides failed to reach consensus set out a series of measures in late July that both sides should explore in the future.

These measures, said PSAC-CIU, include initiating discussions on a pensionable meal period for union members, paid gun practice time, a fitness allowance for union members, agents and new protections for disciplined employees.

The union also said the report encouraged parties to negotiate extended seniority rights for hours, parameters regarding student work, language ensuring that officers are not forced to work alone and a streamlining of procedures for resettlement. grievance resolution.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 4, 2021.

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