CBSA employees secure deal with government hours after strike action at Canada’s borders

August 6, 2021

After an intense final round of negotiations that lasted more than 36 hours, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) reached a tentative agreement with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) late Friday, August 6.

“We are relieved that CBSA and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labour dispute,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “The agreement is a testament to the incredible hard work and dedication of our bargaining team who worked through the night to reach a deal.”

“We also couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support of our members, who put intense pressure on the government at every airport and border crossing across the country today.”

The agreement means an immediate end to work-to-rule strike action that had begun Friday, August 6 and ensures the flow of border traffic will return to normal as the government prepares to welcome fully vaccinated U.S. travellers on Monday, August 9.

“CBSA employees have been on the front lines of the pandemic since day one, protecting our borders and keeping Canadians safe. But they weren’t receiving the support they needed from the government,” said Mark Weber, CIU national president. “Finally – after three years of negotiations – we’ve resolved longstanding issues that will go a long way towards making CBSA a better, safer place to work for our members.”

Negotiations between PSAC-CIU and CBSA began in January 2019 but reached an impasse in December 2020. In May 2021, the union presented arguments at Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearings and a PIC report was issued in July with non-binding recommendations. Following national strike votes throughout June and July, PSAC-CIU announced an overwhelming strike mandate at the end of July and issued an official strike notice on August 3. Work-to-rule action began across the country August 6 at 6 a.m. EDT.

Highlights of the tentative agreement include: 

  • A four-year agreement from 2018-2021 with an average annual increase of over 2% per year;
  • Better protections against excessive discipline in the workplace;
  • The creation of a National Joint Committee to tackle workplace culture problems at CBSA;
  • A paid meal allowance for uniformed members, similar to what most Canadian law enforcement agencies provide;
  • A commitment letter to advance the work toward the introduction of early retirement benefits for CBSA employees;
  • A better grievance-handling process;
  • Domestic violence leave;
  • Other leave and allowance improvements.

This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.


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