Unions representing Canada’s border officials are warning travelers to expect long lines and delays at airports and border crossings if workers take action on Friday.
About 8,500 workers rethe Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) are expected to take part in a strike to rule that will see officers do only the minimum amount of work. required by their contracts.
“We were really hoping we didn’t have to go on strike, but we exhausted all other avenues to get a fair deal with the government,” Chris Aylward, PSAC National President, said in a statement.
The disruption could begin just days before Canada begins to ease border restrictions that will allow U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated permanent residents to enter Canada for non-essential purposes.
This change will take effect on Monday, August 9.
Unions warn that a strike to rule will have a “dramatic impact” on the reopening of the border as well as on Canada’s supply chain.
In addition to airports and land borders, the labor action would also slow down operations at commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and CBSA offices.
Union members voted in favor of the strike at the end of July. Unions say they are looking for better protection against harassment and discrimination, changes to what they call the CBSA’s “toxic work culture” and greater pay equity with other enforcement agencies of the law.
The unions say they are returning to the negotiating table with the federal government today in hopes of reaching a new deal before the strike begins – at 6 a.m. EDT Friday.
The Treasury Board said the unions rejected what Ottawa saw as a fair offer, which included wage adjustments and other provisions consistent with other agreements made by the PSAC.