Border agents have begun a work-to-rule strike, as unions and the government continue to negotiate an agreement to strengthen employee safeguards against harassment and discrimination. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) tweeted this morning that bargaining continued through the night and into the early hours of the morning, but that no agreement had been reached.
“In the meanwhile, work-to-rule efforts have begun across the country,” according to the tweet. PSAC and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) collectively represent around 8,500 border workers. Agents will merely complete the bare minimum of work needed by their contracts under the work-to-rule action. The work-to-rule walkout comes just days before Canada is expected to relax border restrictions for fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents entering the country for non-essential purposes.
That adjustment will take effect on Monday, August 9. Both unions have warned that the strike will have a “dramatic impact” on the reopening of the border as well as Canada’s supply chain. Because 90% of border officers have been classified as critical workers, the border will remain open. According to the unions, travelers should expect long lines and delays at airports and border crossings.
According to a PSAC representative, the work-to-rule activity will continue until a solution is struck. Union members opted to strike in late July. The unions claim they want stronger protection from harassment and discrimination, improvements to the CBSA’s “toxic workplace culture,” and wage parity with other law enforcement agencies.
The CBSA did not clarify earlier this week whether it expected the types of delays highlighted by the unions. The agency stated in a statement that it will “react immediately to any job action” to guarantee that the border remains safe and open to genuine travelers and commerce.