Author Archives: Pierre St-Jacques

International Women’s Day 2023

Stylized image representing women with the words "International Women's Day"

Today is International Women’s Day, and the CIU National Women’s Committee wishes to acknowledge the continued work of all activists and members within our union who identify as women, and without whom many of our victories and achievements would never have become reality. A true force for mobilization in the face of adversity, women of all horizons are consistently at the forefront of the union movement to defend our rights and fight for greater equality.

Just today in British Columbia, women activists are once again leading the push against the employer’s all-too-common overreach attempts, rallying against CBSA’s arbitrary decision to cancel long-standing working agreements affecting workers with family related obligations.

On behalf of the entire Customs and Immigration Union, to all the women who are fighting to take down barriers and build a fairer, more just world, we extend our most heartfelt solidarity.

– The CIU National Women’s Committee

Treasury Board’s hybrid work plan: Filing individual grievances

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Earlier this year, PSAC filed policy grievances with Treasury Board and federal agencies (including CBSA), further challenging the employer’s decision to impose its flawed hybrid work model on federal public service workers in the midst of collective bargaining negotiations.

At the same time, PSAC also encouraged members who were negatively impacted by the employer’s policy to file individual grievances, especially in circumstances not covered by the policy grievance. The following seeks to provide further guidance for members who wish to file an individual grievance — and clarify when this may not be necessary.

Denial of accommodation requests

Members who have been negatively impacted by the employer’s hybrid work plan with regards to a protected human rights ground — such as family status (including child or elder care responsibilities), or medical disability — should request to be accommodated under the employer’s duty to accommodate policy. Members who see their accommodation request denied would then be in a position to grieve per article 19 of the collective agreement and should consult with their local CIU representative. As with any other duty to accommodate grievance, appropriate documentation and evidence will be required through the duty to accommodate process.


Members who were expressly told or were given assurances by management that their telework arrangement would be permanent, and who are now being ordered to report to the office, should consider filing a grievance on misrepresentation.

Example of grievance language to consider: The employer promised that my position would be conducted exclusively and permanently through telework. I relied on that promise to my detriment. I grieve that the employer is now ordering me to attend at a physical work location, in contravention of the promise that was made to me with regard to my working conditions.

Grievance language should be tailored to specific situations, and members should first speak with their local CIU representative.

Poor policy implementation

In situations where the employer orders employees to report to the office but does so without proper rationale or in a way that contravenes Treasury Board’s own directive, members may be in a position to grieve. Situations to consider include:

  • Failure to provide operational requirements supporting the need for in-person attendance.
  • Insufficient justification for asking an employee to report to a specific work location.
  • Singling out an employee to report to the office on a weekly basis.

Grievances in this category will vary greatly and will require detailed explanation as to why the employer is thought to be in error. Examples of grievance language to consider include I was not provided with the rationale for attending two days a week or I am the only member of my team who is required to attend on a weekly basis, but this will need to be supported by specific facts.

At the end of the day, these grievances need to focus on how the policy was implemented (and the resulting negative impacts) as opposed to grieving the hybrid work model itself, and members should consult their local CIU representatives.

When not to file

Outside of the circumstances listed above — denial of accommodation requests, misrepresentation, and poor policy implementation — individual grievances will most likely be redundant and are not recommended. The policy grievance filed by PSAC on behalf of our members (along with the earlier statutory freeze complaint) already covers the policy itself, the decision to order employees to report to work in person, and the implementation of the policy during bargaining.

It’s clear that the poorly thought out, one-size-fits-all approach favoured by Treasury Board, along with the general lack of consideration for work-life balance we’ve come to expect from CBSA, has proven to be highly frustrating for our members. That’s why CIU and PSAC are also pushing for better protections and improved telework language as part of ongoing bargaining efforts.

As always, we will keep you informed of any movement on this matter. Should members have any questions, they should reach out to their local CIU representative or Branch President.

CIU members meet with Grand Chief for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

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On February 21, 2023, Customs and Immigration Union members had the opportunity to meet with Abram Benedict, Grand Chief for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne as part of an ongoing conversation between Akwesasne community leaders and our union to better understand and address long-standing concerns between Akwesasne residents and Cornwall port of entry border officers.

Amongst other union members, present at the meeting were CIU National Human Rights Representative Murray Star, CIU Eastern Ontario Branch President Todd Matejka, as well as CIU Eastern Ontario Chief Steward John Bay. This is the second meeting between CIU representatives and Mohawk leaders in the past few months, following a visit to Akwesasne by CIU National President Mark Weber in late December 2022, during which CIU representatives met with both the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the hereditary Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs.

The CIU leadership is hopeful that this recent open forum meeting between union members and Grand Chief Benedict will pave the way for a continuing collaboration to resolve entrenched tensions and make transiting through the Cornwall POE less cumbersome for residents of Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island), and safer for all.

Transiting from the island to the mainland should be a non-event for residents of Kawehno:ke. Sadly, that is currently not the case, due in large part to poor design in and around the Cornwall POE, chronic understaffing at the port, and CBSA’s general inaction regarding both residents’ and CIU members’ concerns.

Beyond the broader systemic context, CBSA needs to put in the work to address these specific issues, mend the relationship with the Akwesasne community, and ensure a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. This means proper training for management and officers alike, thoughtful consultation with Akwesasne and CIU leaders, and careful consideration of equity needs. While CIU cannot do the employer’s job for them, we can begin building bridges where they won’t and demonstrate to them how this complex situation can be addressed.

CIU is thankful to Grand Chief Benedict and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, as well as the hereditary Chiefs, for their openness in establishing an ongoing dialogue with the union, so that we may better appreciate the issues at hand. We would also like to recognize the work of John Bay who, as Chief Steward for his port and only Border Officer working at the Cornwall POE who is also a member of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne, was instrumental in laying the foundation for this important initiative.

FB bargaining: Team discusses firearm and telework issues while employer pushes concessions

The new year brought new bargaining dates for our FB team as we returned to the table with Treasury Board/Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) from January 31 to February 2, picking up where we left off in December. With the last day of this bargaining session coinciding with the FB day of mobilization on Feb 2 (see photos here), the team was re-energized with support from members across the country.

During bargaining, our team proposed the reintroduction of paid firearm practice time. We also discussed our proposal concerning paid time for members to tool up and tool down at the beginning and end of each shift. Unfortunately, no progress was made on these issues, even though grievances have been filed.

While at the table, we took the opportunity to once again rebuke Treasury Board’s flawed hybrid work policy, against which PSAC has now filed a freeze complaint to halt the policy, and policy grievances on behalf of members. Our team reiterated that we need telework language that allows us to grieve in our collective agreement, because the government’s botched rollout of their policy has made it abundantly clear that Treasury Board and CBSA are not to be trusted.

CBSA continues to propose concessions

Meanwhile, CBSA continued to push for significant concessions, including their proposal to add new restrictions to Article 41, leave without pay for the care of family. We believe any restrictions on this leave will lead to management rejecting all requests, as ‘no’ is the default with CBSA management. The employer also wants to water down our variable shift schedule agreement (VSSA) and hours of work rights. Our team rejected these proposals and told the employer we are only interested in improving our collective agreement, not going backwards.

Next steps

We are in the process of setting additional dates with the employer. In the meantime, we encourage you to read our bargaining proposals to ensure you know what we’re fighting for:

Please be sure to keep your contact information up to date to receive all the latest updates about bargaining. If you have any questions, please contact your branch president or your PSAC regional office.

This article was first posted on the PSAC website.

February 2, 2023: Solidarity redux

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On February 2 — Groundhog Day — our FB bargaining team was back at the bargaining table, where the employer continued to display the same inconsiderate attitude we’ve seen before, repeating a pattern we’re all too familiar with.

Luckily, CIU members from coast to coast to coast, in a display of solidarity reminiscent of August 6, 2021, were ready to step up once again and support their bargaining team, displaying signs, swag and stickers. Last round of bargaining, the employer saw what we could do when we’re united, and the message we sent on February 2 was clear: If they want to repeat the past, so can we. But we’re not going to wait three years.

See the gallery below for photos of the day.