CBSA Workers Vote to Strike, Action Could Start Next Week

CIU/PSAC Members Picketing in Support of Strike Action

Trade Update • JULY 27, 2021

Canadian importers could be facing mail disruptions and slowdowns at ports of entry for commercial goods after roughly 9,000 employees of the Canada Border Services Agency gave their union “an overwhelming strike mandate” that could take effect as soon as August 6 (next Friday).

As previously reported, the employees — members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union — have been without a contract for over three years. Since talks with the federal government broke off last December, the two sides have been unable to agree on better protections for CBSA staff that would address complaints about a “toxic” workplace culture and wage disparity with other branches of Canadian law enforcement personnel.

Risk of Significant Economic Disruption

The union warns that a labour dispute while borders begin to reopen could cause significant disruption to the flow of goods, services, and people entering Canada, and impact the Canadian economy by:

  • Slowing down commercial traffic at the border and ports of entry;
  • Impacting international mail and parcel deliveries from Canada Post and other major shipping companies;
  • Impact the collection of duties and taxes on goods entering Canada.

However, CBSA spokesperson Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr in an emailed statement to the Canadian Press pointed out that 90% of border services officers have been identified as essential and will therefore continue to work at their jobs in the event of a strike. She said that the agency “will respond quickly to any job action/work disruption in order to maintain the safety and security of our border.”

Next Steps

The PSAC/CIU bargaining team is reportedly now calling on government ministers (Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and CBSA president John Ossowski) to return to the bargaining table.

The union points hopefully to a recent tentative agreement reached between the federal government and unionized RCMP members as “showing a clear willingness to negotiate from the government,” but warns that “their window to avert a strike is quickly closing.”

Keeping You Informed

GHY will continue to monitor this developing situation and provide updates regarding possible commercial disruptions as more detailed information about the specific nature of any strike action becomes available.

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