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Clock ticking on CBSA border strike action

June 3, 2024
The Canadian Press


A potential strike looms at border crossings across the country for more than 9,000 workers at Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) following the release of the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report.

The release of the report – outlining the Commission’s recommendations to reach a settlement – starts the clock on job action and puts workers in a legal strike position as of Thursday, June 6.

CBSA personnel represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) voted 96 per cent in favour of taking strike action earlier this month.

“The clock is ticking,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC national president-elect. “At every opportunity, Trudeau’s Liberal government has refused to put the needs of workers first, and time is running out to avoid sweeping job action.”

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Job action by CBSA personnel in 2021 nearly brought commercial cross-border traffic to a standstill, causing major delays at airports and borders across the country and a marathon 36-hour bargaining session to reach an agreement.

“Taking job action is always a last resort, but the overwhelming support for our strike mandate – with 96 per cent of our members in favour – show that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to win a fair contract,” said Mark Weber, Customs and Immigration Union national president.

PSAC will be in mediated negotiations with Treasury Board and CBSA beginning June 3 in an effort to reach an agreement and avert job action. PSAC is hopeful the employer will return to the bargaining table with a renewed mandate to secure a contract that addresses the key outstanding issues at the table for members.

Workers have been without a contract for over two years, yet Treasury Board and CBSA are still not prepared to negotiate an agreement that protects workers, and continue to demand concessions at the bargaining table.

CBSA personnel are calling for fair wages in line with other law enforcement agencies across the country and equitable retirement benefits.

Almost all law enforcement and public safety workers — both provincially and municipally — receive early retirement benefits, with very few exceptions. This includes firefighters, air traffic controllers, RCMP constables, operational employees of the Correctional Service of Canada, and more.

“Treasury Board President Anita Anand and the Liberal government can make this right and put forward the legislative changes required to provide CBSA personnel the same early retirement benefits as other law enforcement agencies in Canada, allowing them to retire with dignity,” said DeSousa.

The full PIC report, containing non-binding recommendations for reaching a new collective agreement, is available at the Federal Public Sector and Labour Relations and Employment Board website.


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