Unions representing Canadian border officers late Friday, Aug. 6, reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract with Canadian government agencies, avoiding a strike that could have crippled land and air entry into Canada.
The agreement was reached less than 72 hours before Canada is set to reopen its borders to vaccinated U.S. citizens. The border has been closed to most travel since March 2020.
Nearly 9,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Customs and Immigration Union were set to go on strike Friday morning. But union officials said they reached the deal “after an intense final round of negotiations that lasted more than 36 hours.”
“We are relieved that (Canada Border Services Agency) and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labour dispute,” said Chris Aylward, union president, in a statement. “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.”
The agreement means an immediate end to work-to-rule strike action that had begun Friday, Aug. 6, and ensures the flow of border traffic will return to normal as the government prepares to welcome fully vaccinated U.S. travelers on Monday, Aug. 9.
Negotiations between the unions and the government reached an impasse in December 2020. 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. The unions said 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 and creation of a National Joint Committee to tackle workplace culture problems within the Canada Border Service Agency.