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CBSA workers vote in favour of a strike

CBSA workers vote in favour of a strike

This strike could lead to significant disruptions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Another ongoing labour situation in Canada could affect the farming and food sectors.

On May 24, the Public Service Alliance of Canada announced that 96 per cent of the more than 9,000 unionized employees working for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) voted in favour of a strike mandate.

Front-line border guards are considered essential and would still be required to work, but they can refuse to work overtime and employ tactics to delay proceedings at border crossings.

This potential strike, which could begin in June, “could lead to significant disruptions to the flow of goods, services and people at Canadian ports of entry as the busy summer season approaches,” the union said in a statement.

Border guards work at about 1,100 points of service across the country.

From an ag standpoint, a strike would delay food and other important goods coming into Canada.

The CBSA “is responsible for the initial inspection of food, agricultural inputs and agricultural products,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says.

The federal government hopes the situation can be resolved without a strike.

“We recognize that labour action is a legitimate part of collective bargaining. Employees have the right to strike, but at this time it is unnecessary,” the government said in a statement. “We are ready and willing to return to the bargaining table at any time.”

The two sides are scheduled to begin mediation on June 3 after receiving recommendations from the Public Interest Commission.

The situation with the CBSA is one many that could affect Canadian ag.

Employees at CN and CPKC, for example, were set to be on strike as of May 22.

But Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to intervene to determine which activities need to continue if a strike or lockout occurs.

Until the board gives its decision, parties are banned from striking or locking employees out.

And in B.C., the BC Maritime Employers Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 are also working on a new deal. has contacted the Canadian Federation of Agriculture for comment on the multiple ongoing labour situations and how ag could be caught in the crosshairs.

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