The union representing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers staged a rally at the Peace Arch (Douglas) border crossing Wednesday to draw the public’s attention to its ongoing contract negotiations with the federal government.
Starting at noon, dozens of union members sporadically blocked southbound traffic to the border while motorists honked their horns.
The Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada are “demanding a fair wage increase that keeps up with inflation, better protections for members from CBSA management, and improved work-life balance.”
The union, according to a news release, is also asking CBSA to support pension reform, allowing officers to retire after 25 years of service without penalty, as is the case for other law-enforcement agencies.
CIU national president Jean-Pierre Fortin, who is based out of Ottawa but attended Wednesday’s rally, told Peace Arch News that the pension is a “key issue” in its bargaining.
“We have to keep in mind that the CBSA is the second-biggest law enforcement organization… in Canada. So we just want to be treated as such,” he said. Fortin said the last round of bargaining took four years to come to an agreement on a “decent contract,” and CIU is now in its second year of bargaining for a new contract.
Although the border was fully operational Wednesday, Fortin said CIU will “in the very near future” assess “pressure tactics.”
“And it could certainly impact, you know, the public in general,” he said. “So we want to send a very clear message to the government to start bargaining.”
Wednesday’s rally marked the third the union has staged across the country, including two previous protests in New Brunswick and Ontario.
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