Border delays expected amid CBSA job action after negotiations fail

CALGARY — Job action is expected to have an impact on Canada’s hampered travel industry after contract negotiations between the federal government and the union representing border workers failed to reach an agreement by the deadline and strike action is underway.

Employees with the Canada Border Services Agency are considered essential workers so walk-offs en masse won’t be in place.

Instead, “work-to-rule” actions have begun, according to the Public Services Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union.

A series of “sweeping” actions have started across the country to send a message to their employer, the Treasury Board of Canada.

The job action comes just days before Canada will reopen its border to fully vaccinated Americans on Monday.

It affects more than 8,500 Canada border service agents with 400 of those in Alberta.

There will be fewer agents to process travellers at land crossing and airport terminals.

Staff won’t be taking overtime and they also won’t be collecting duties and taxes during the strike.

The job action will also have an impact on commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and headquarters locations. 

The Calgary Airport Authority issued a statement Friday morning.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe, secure and efficient experience as border restrictions ease and we welcome more travellers through YYC. We are receiving regular updates from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and we are proactively working with our airport partners to help minimize the impacts to passengers and employees,” it read.

“CBSA has advised that screening protocols will continue to be completed for all international passengers arriving in Canada, ensuring health of Canadians and security of borders are maintained during this period. We are monitoring the situation closely for impacts to passengers and employees, and we ask travellers and guests for patience as CBSA wait times could increase.”

The PSAC-CIU says it hopes to force the government back to the table to address what it calls a “toxic” workplace culture, and they also want parity with other law enforcement personnel across Canada.

“They’re saying enough is enough,” said Marianne Hladun with PSAC.

“Key priorities are truly a toxic workplace with harassment and abuse that’s not been addressed by CBSA, and as well as really recognition of the fact that they are the second largest law enforcement body in Canada.”

The border agents have been working without a contract for three years.

The prime minister said yesterday that he hoped this would be resolved at the bargaining table, but members have said they won’t return to the table until issues concerning wage and workplace culture are addressed.

PSAC-CIU will be holding a news conference via online web stream at 8 a.m. MT.

This is a developing story that will be updarted throughout the day …

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