CALGARY — People crossing the border into Canada should expect longer lines and more delays starting Friday morning, the union representing more than 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers says.
If a deal isn’t agreed to between the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and Customs and Immigration Unions (CIU), job action will commence at 4 a.m. MT Friday.
“They’re saying enough is enough and they’re prepared to take action,” said Marianne Hladun, the Vice President of the PSAC Prairies division.
CBSA employees are essential workers, so they cannot walk off the job entirely, but there will be fewer people on shift and workers will not accept any overtime. It’ll lead to longer lineups and delays at airports and land border crossings, Hladun said.
It comes just days before Canada is ready to reopen its border to fully-vaccinated Americans on Monday.
The job action will also apply to CBSA employees at shipping ports and postal facilities, so packages coming into Canada may be delayed as well.
Workers will also not be collecting duties and taxes during the job action.
“We’re hopeful we’re going to be able to settle this at the bargaining table. Because the fact is, over the past number of years, we have resolved and renegotiated almost all the different public service agreements that we needed to do,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday.
CBSA workers have been without a contract for three years and want better wage parity with other law enforcement officers, among other things.
“Key priorities are truly a toxic workplace with harassment and abuse that’s not been addressed by CBSA,” Hladun said.
“As well as really recognition of the fact that they are the second-largest law enforcement body in Canada.”
About 400 of the impacted workers are in Alberta, the union said.
“Ninety per cent (90%) of frontline Border Services Officers have been identified as essential, meaning that they will continue to offer essential services if there is a strike. We expect that our officers will continue to fulfill their duties with the highest level of integrity and professionalism,” reads a statement from the CBSA.
Teams from both sides spent Thursday negotiating and say a last-minute deal is possible to avoid job action Friday morning.