Canadian border workers vote in favour of possible strike: union

Border workers have voted in favour of a strike mandate which could lead to “significant disruptions” to the flow of goods, services and people through Canadian ports of entry, their union said Friday morning.

Members voted 96 per cent in favour of the mandate, clearing the way for a possible strike over the summer.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) represents border officers at airports, land and marine crossings and commercial points of entry. Members also include inland enforcement, intelligence and trade officers, as well as investigators and other staff.

PSAC says its members have been without an updated collective agreement for two years, and that negotiations are at an impasse.

In 2021, a brief yet impactful work-to-rule campaign left long lines of semi-trucks and passenger vehicles idling at the country’s entry points.

Semi-trailers snaked in hours-long waits to pass the gate in Surrey, B.C. Travellers crawled to cross in southern Saskatchewan.

Negotiations lasted through the night and day, and the union reached a deal with the CBSA and government after a gruelling 36 hours.

This year, the union says it wants “fair” wages aligned with other law enforcement workers in Canada, and an “equitable retirement regime.”

It’s also asking for “flexible” online and remote work options. The union accused the government of “demanding concessions,” saying its “not prepared” to negotiate.

“Unless they want a repeat of 2021, Treasury Board and CBSA must be prepared to come to the table,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward in a news release.

“The window to avert a strike is closing quickly,” he added.

Just hours after the union announced it had achieved the strike mandate, the federal government released its response saying it’s ready to return to the bargaining table “at any time.”

The government says it has already renewed agreements with 80 per cent of the public service, and “if the union is ready to negotiate in good faith, we can do the same.” 

This is a breaking news story. More details to come.

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