Telework at CBSA: Responding to the Agency’s hybrid work model

October 21, 2022
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Dear members,

Over the past few weeks, the implementation of the new hybrid work model by CBSA has once again demonstrated the Agency’s inability to properly assess the needs of — and consult with — its employees before enforcing sweeping policy changes. While nuance and flexibility should have been common sense, the Agency’s preference for an ill-suited, one-size-fits-all approach has been of great concern, and we’ve been hard at work to hold the employer to task.

What many of you have shared with us is troubling: You’ve been asked to return to the office with very little notice and without any clear or consistent explanation as to why it was necessary to do so. More egregious is the blatant lack of interest from the Agency to pursue a consultation process that would have accounted for both CBSA’s service requirements and its employees needs — or to even issue comprehensive guidelines to managers — before implementing this policy.

As things stand, what is clear is that the Agency’s hybrid work model is being applied without rhyme or reason, with some workplaces going so far as justifying mandatory in-person attendance with the need to ‘socialize around the water cooler’.

At the end of the day, the sad yet unsurprising reality is that all of this flies in the face of the Treasury Board Secretariat’s very own guidance on telework and a hybrid workforce, and that much of this could have been avoided if the Agency had not opted once again to skirt its responsibility to consult with both union and staff.

This situation formed much of the discussion at the recent CIU National Board of Directors meeting, and we are working toward seeing your concerns addressed through different means, including the possibility of grievances should it prove necessary. PSAC, too, has committed to following up with Treasury Board on the matter, and the issue of telework remains a major priority at the bargaining table. Our goal is clear: The Agency must not only provide clear reasoning as to why, how, and when an employee needs to report to the workplace before implementing any sort of hybrid work arrangement, it must also genuinely listen to the needs and concerns of its workforce.

This can be a complex process, but it is the only way to ensure employees are treated in a fair and equitable manner. Many of you have worked remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, doing so admirably and continuing to serve the Canadian public to the highest standard without any disruption in service, making telework a success story. The Customs and Immigration Union is incredibly proud of the work that you do, and we are here to ensure that you are treated in a manner befitting your dedication to your duties. Do not hesitate to reach out to your Branch President should you require any help or guidance on this matter — we’re here to help.

Stay tuned for more information as things progress.

In solidarity,

Mark Weber
National President
Customs and Immigration Union

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