About 9,000 Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) workers are preparing to begin job action across the country this Friday (August 6) and say travelers should expect long delays at border crossings and airports.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and its Customs and Immigration Union, which represent the border workers, say they have served an official strike notice to the federal government in Ottawa and are readying workers for various job actions.
If a contract isn't reached by 6 a.m. on Friday, the union said its members will begin a "sweeping" series of actions at Canadian airports, land borders, commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and headquarter locations.
The Treasury Board of Canada said the federal government made a formal request earlier this week for the federal labour relations body to appoint a mediator in the ongoing contract dispute.
Ninety per cent (90%) of frontline border workers have been identified as essential so they will continue to offer services if there is a strike, says the CBSA.
The border dispute comes as Canada is preparing to allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit without having to quarantine starting on August 9 and will open the country's borders to travelers from other countries with the required doses of a COVID-19 shot on September 7.
PSAC-CIU represents 5,500 border services officers, 2,000 headquarters staff and other workers at Canada Post facilities and in inland enforcement jobs.
The union members have been without a contract for about three years because they and their employers have been unable to agree on better protections for staff that the union argues would bring them in line with other law enforcement personnel across Canada.
Union members voted last month to strike if the two sides couldn't reach an agreement, prompting the federal government to return to the bargaining table.