Tag Archives: CBSA

CIU welcomes Auditor General’s report on harassment and violence in the workplace

CIU Flag / Drapeau du SDI

We applaud the Auditor General’s recent report that found that both the Canada Border Services Agency and Correctional Service Canada were well aware of issues of workplace harassment, discrimination and violence – yet did little to curb the problem.

The Auditor General’s report confirms what the union and our members have known for a long time. Despite being on the receiving end of hundreds of grievances regarding harassment and discrimination in the workplace, too often has CBSA chosen to delay and stall. Just last fall, CIU’s National President, Jean-Pierre Fortin, was vocal about CBSA’s management creating a “toxic workplace culture through fear, intimidation and harassment,” calling upon the government to “launch an independent, third party investigation to look into these serious abuses of power by managers.”

We are pleased to see that Minister Blair as well as CBSA reacted favourably to the Auditor General’s recommendations. In light of this report, we remain fully committed to work with CBSA to foster a better environment for our members and ensure that real work is done to create a safer, healthier workplace.

Further reading

CBSA must address abuse of authority and harassment by management

Photo of cars at border crossing

The unions representing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees are demanding immediate action to address abuse of authority and harassment by management at the agency.

In a video released today, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) outline several cases which have gone unaddressed by CBSA.

“Management is creating a toxic workplace culture through fear, intimidation and harassment,” said Jean-Pierre Fortin, National President of the Customs and Immigration Union. “The government must launch an independent, third party investigation to look into these serious abuses of power by managers.”

Incidents reported by PSAC-CIU members include:

  • A male supervisor physically assaulting a female officer in front of several witnesses without repercussions;
  • A manager forcing officers to conduct an illegal strip search of a bus full of students;
  • A manager punching a Border Services Officer in the face unprovoked.

A couple of months ago, CBSA unveiled a video threatening surveillance of members at work and harsh disciplinary measures for a range of offences. The video, warning members that “discipline in the workplace happens” and “the consequences may surprise you,” reinforces the need for better protections against harassment and abuse of authority in the next collective agreement.

In the latest round of bargaining, PSAC-CIU are also proposing new whistleblower protections for members who report CBSA wrongdoing.

“The constant threat of discipline has a devastating impact on the mental health and well-being of our members,” said Fortin. “Our members are safeguarding Canada’s borders; they should feel like CBSA stands behind them.”

It’s not surprising that a significant number of CBSA employees (40%) report their workplace as being psychologically unhealthy in the 2018 Public Service Employee Survey.

In addition, nearly a quarter of employees (22%) have also reported being victims of harassment on the job in the past year, significantly higher than the rest of the federal public service (15%).

CBSA must put an end to its two-tiered system of discipline and reprimand managers who abuse their authority and harass employees. Better, fairer protections are needed for all PSAC-CIU members.

PSAC-CIU and Treasury Board/Canada Border Services Agency return to the bargaining table on January 21-23, 2020.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.

FB bargaining team striving to make CBSA a better place to work

Photo of a border services officer with the words bargaining - FB group

Our PSAC-Customs and Immigration Union (PSAC-CIU) bargaining team raised issues around vacation leave, medical notes, student workers and firearm practice time during negotiations with Treasury Board/Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) July 30 to August 1.

The team also reached an agreement to fairly compensate CBSA dog handlers.

Other key issues discussed at the table include:

Protections from CBSA Management

We continue to raise problems related to CBSA management culture and CBSA’s dealings with employees. In addition to proposals we’ve made concerning new protections in the context of discipline, abuse of authority and harassment, our team spoke again this week to our proposal to ensure whistleblowing protections are in place for PSAC/CIU members in the event of CBSA wrongdoing.

Paid Leave

Our team addressed the need for us to achieve improved leave and work-life balance. Most ports are understaffed, and overtime use is rampant. We have proposed an increase in annual leave to match what RCMP constables are afforded. We also raised issues related to access to leave with income averaging (LWIA).

Medical Notes

There is no clear policy with respect to employees being required to provide medical notes. CBSA managers often require employees to provide medical notes based on subjective criteria. Our position is that if management wants a medical note, they can pay for the costs associated with obtaining it.

Firearm Practice Time

Our team is demanding that officers be provided paid time for firearm practice, consistent with the Agency’s previous practice.

Student workers

We again raised the issue of students working at airports. In several locations across the country, students are being employed as a cheap labour force and undermining both the safety and security of Canadians and our collective agreement rights. Our proposals in bargaining regarding student use would rectify these issues.

Dog Handlers, grievance procedure, telework

We continued this week to push for language that would streamline the grievance process, and to provide better access to telework options for non-uniformed personnel. We also raised and resolved issues with CBSA management with respect to compensation for officers with dog-handling responsibilities.

We are scheduled to return to the bargaining table in September.

To review the package of proposals that we tabled and those of the employer, go to: psacunion.ca/fb. We’ll be sure to provide updates as things progress.

We stand tall for law enforcement

Together as FBs, we’ve achieved incredible victories over the years. PSAC is the largest union in the federal public service, and one of the largest public sector unions in the country.  No other union has more experience in bargaining and representation within the federal public service than PSAC and CIU.

  • We successfully won the right for Border Services Officers to be armed in 2006.
  • Since 2007, PSAC-CIU successfully negotiated a 48% increase in compensation for frontline BSO, including a 17.5% raise in 2018.
  • We won significant new rights for shift workers, including protections in the context of VSSA negotiations and seniority rights.

Standing together, we will continue to work together and hold the CBSA’s feet to the fire to ensure we can continue to make groundbreaking gains for FB members.

The original version of this article was first posted on the PSAC website.

Reduction of Hours of Operation at Ports of Entry: Customs and Immigration Union Expresses Concerns

CIU Flag / Drapeau du SDI

Press Release – Ottawa, November 12, 2018 – The National President of the Customs and Immigration Union which represents 10,000 members, most of whom are front line border services and inland immigration enforcement officers, has raised concerns regarding the recent announcement that effective November 26, 2018, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will be reducing the hours of operation at nine ports of entry in New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and British-Columbia.

CIU National President Jean-Pierre Fortin provided details of the looming closures, outlining the larger issue of CBSA’s continuing reduction of operational capabilities:

“Hours of operation will be reduced in the future at the Fosterville, Milltown, Morses Line, South Junction, Tolstoi, Piney, Snowflake, Carson and Nelway ports of entry. In August 2017, CIU had expressed concerns regarding a similar reduction in hours of operation in New Brunswick and had predicted that CBSA would expand this practice to other ports of entry. This month’s reduction in hours is clearly a continuation of what began last year. The only explanation provided by CBSA is that this is being done to harmonize Canada’s hours of operation with those at US facilities. No consideration is being given to the bordering communities who will be impacted by the reduced hours of service, or to the overall safety of Canadians.”

On the latter point, Fortin highlighted the clear contradiction between reducing hours of operation at ports of entry and the Government of Canada’s stated aim of wanting to increase security at the border.

“In a recent press release, the Government of Canada announced additional funding for CBSA to invest in new resources and technology that will stop the flow of illegal firearms into Canada. While we welcome the additional funding, we know that technology cannot replace seasoned officers. It is baffling to us that on the one hand CBSA would put in place new technology to stop the flow of illegal goods, while on the other reduce the hours of operation at nine ports of entry. The recent weapons seizure in Fort Erie should serve to remind us all – the country’s first line of defence must not only be well-equipped, it must be properly staffed.”

Fortin further calls upon the Canadian Government and CBSA to use the increased funding to invest in additional border officers and expand their role to ensure the integrity of the Canadian border. He added that if there was no other alternative to reducing hours of operation, border officers should at the very least have the authority to travel between ports of entry and monitor the ports after hours.

“While Americans benefit from a dedicated border patrol that can maintain their country’s security even when a port of entry is closed, Canadians do not.

Current events show that the border never sleeps. A dedicated CBSA border patrol would go a long way towards maintaining our border’s integrity. Whether we’re talking about asylum seekers crossing outside of designated ports of entry or the trafficking of dangerous goods such as firearms and drugs, border officers need to be able to react quickly and efficiently. A dedicated border patrol would see border officers better equipped to perform their duties to protect, and hence ensure the safety, security and well-being of Canadians.”

The Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) is a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), which represents Canada’s Front-Line Customs and Immigration Officers. CIU also represents Investigation, Intelligence and Trade Customs Officers, Immigration Inland Enforcement and Hearings Officers, as well as all support staff – all of whom work at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Victory! PSAC Member Awarded Damages in Age Discrimination Case

Victory!

In a recent adjudication decision, Diane Legros, a PSAC member who worked for Canada Border Services Agency, was awarded $25,000 in damages because her employer discriminated against her based on her age. The Federal Public Service Labour and Employment Relations Board (FPSLREB) decision awarded these significant damages because the employer refused to allow Legros to take advantage of a retirement incentive due to her age, and that the discrimination was “willful and reckless.”

“We are pleased to see that the adjudicator awarded significant damages for a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “It’s important that in cases like this, where managers so blatantly and recklessly discriminate against an employee, that there be a consequence for that. Hopefully, lessons will be learned from this case.”

Denial of alternation based on age

The adjudicator found that the grievor’s age was a factor in the employer’s decision to deny her alternation, which was discrimination. Alternation is available under the Workforce Adjustment Directive during reorganization or downsizing in the public service. It occurs when one employee switches or “alternates” with another employee who has been declared surplus and will lose their job. The employee can alternate into the surplus job and retire with a financial payout known as the “transition support measure”.

Legros wanted to alternate with a surplus employee and take the transition support measure and retire. But her manager refused to allow her to do so because of her age. She was 62 and the manager expected she would likely retire soon and her position could be eliminated at that time.

The adjudicator said that “due to the grievor’s age, [the manager] was relying on the grievor retiring to meet the DRAP’s objectives. For that reason, she denied her a benefit (leaving as an alternate) that others could claim.” This denial of the benefit was age discrimination.

Damages for pain and suffering, “willful and reckless” discrimination

According to the decision, the manager “did everything in her power to prevent [the alternation] from taking place.”

The manager’s refusal continued despite an adjudication decision in another case where the Board had ruled that alternation could not be denied based on the employer’s future plan to eliminate the alternate’s position once he or she retired.

The adjudicator awarded $10,000 in damages for “willful and reckless discrimination” under section 53(3) of the Act, because the manager continued the refusal for a long time, even after the other adjudication decision.

Stating that Legros suffered “significant pain and suffering”, the adjudicator also awarded $15,000 in damages under section 53(2)(e) of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

A version of this article was first published on the PSAC website.