As per the Public Service Labour Relations Act, our FB bargaining team filed for conciliation earlier this year when it became clear that the employer was not prepared to seriously address our issues, including parity with other federal enforcement agencies. With the Public Interest Commision (PIC) mediation attempt having failed in October, we proceeded to hearing on November 2 and 6 at the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Employment Board (FPSLREB).
Over the course of these two days, our bargaining team made our case for compensation parity with other law enforcement agencies across Canada, including other federal agencies under the Ministry of Public Safety. We also made the case – repeatedly – that there are serious problems at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and that in light of these, we seek new rights for employees particularly as they pertain to discipline, hours of work and arming. CBSA management is not to be trusted. We need new protections.
On the afternoon of November 6, the employer began presenting Treasury Board/CBSA’s case. The employer responded to our wage position by stating that it is inappropriate to compare members of the FB bargaining unit – including Inland Enforcement, Investigations, Intelligence and Border Services Officers – with other large law enforcement organizations such as municipal, provincial and federal police forces. The employer also indicated that there are no recruitment or retention issues at CBSA.
We do not agree. From CBSA YouTube recruitment videos to skeleton staffing at ports of entry to officers being asked to handout recruitment flyers to the public at certain ports, clearly there are recruitment and retention problems at CBSA. As for comparator groups, our position is that a majority of PSAC/CIU members at CBSA are armed law enforcement personnel with police powers, and that compensation needs to reflect this reality.
A final hearing date is scheduled for November 23. We wish to thank the officers from the Ottawa area who came and joined our team at the recent hearings. We’ll be sure to provide updates as things progress. If you have any questions, please contact a member of our bargaining team, or go to psacunion.ca/employer/fb-group.
A version of this article was first published on the PSAC website.