Because of the nature of CBSA officers’ work, many personnel are forbidden from striking. A 2009 decision by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board clarifies how personnel are deemed essential. Essential duties include inspections of goods, but not “assessing and collecting duties, taxes, fees and fines,” according to the decision. The decision appears to open the door for a strike to create significant delays for cargo clearance.
The CBSA, in response to questions from American Shipper, said it will put in place an essential service agreement in the event of a strike “to ensure that there are sufficient border services officers on the job to maintain the security and integrity of our border,” and personnel in essential positions would be forbidden from striking.
“The CBSA will respond quickly to any job action/work disruption in order to maintain the security of our border, ensure compliance with our laws, and keep the border open to legitimate travellers and goods,” CBSA senior spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said in an email.
The CBSA declined to respond to questions about how it plans to collect duties in the event of a strike or if it had any specific plans to mitigate any impacts a strike might have on the movements of the goods.