Thousands of border workers may walk off the job a few days before the federal government reopens the border to American visitors.
The nearly 9,000 unionized staff with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) voted to strike Tuesday, opening up the door for strike action on August 6, 2021.
The border is set to reopen to American visitors three days afterward.
The union representing border workers says the flow of goods, services and people entering Canada could all be impacted with “significant delays in courier and travel services.”
The employees — members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) — have been without a contract for over three years.
“Taking strike action is always a last resort, but we’re grappling with systemic workplace harassment issues that must be addressed,” said Mark Weber, CIU national president in a statement to media. “The toxic workplace culture at CBSA is taking a heavy toll on the mental health and well-being of our members.”
“Our members at CBSA have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, and many have contracted COVID-19 while working,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “They’ve kept our borders safe, screened travellers entering Canada, and ensured the rapid clearance of vaccine shipments. Now it’s time for the government to step up for them the way they’ve stepped up for Canadians.”
Both the CIU and PSAC have called on CBSA president John Ossowski, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to return to the bargaining table.