Over 8,500 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers have voted in favor of a strike after going without a contract for over three years. Strike action could begin as early as August 6, just three days before Canada opens up its borders for fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents.
“Our members at CBSA have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, and many have contracted COVID-19 while working,” said Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada national president. “They’ve kept our borders safe, screened travelers 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.”
The union warns that the labor dispute could cause major disruption at border crossings for both travelers and commercial traffic. However, a CBSA spokesperson said 90 percent of front-line border officers have been declared “essential” and will stay on the job. Still, workers can employ a “work to rule” strategy whereby they enforce all applicable rules such as sending people inside to pay duties on purchases normally overlooked or other actions that would snarl the border.