Union warns of possible delays because of labour dispute

by Canadian Shipper

Canada Customs’ labour union says that travellers could face long delays at airports and border crossings across Canada this summer if its 10,500-strong customs officials don’t get a fair wage increase.

According to the Canadian Press, Customs officers at Pearson International Airport in Toronto have begun refusing to work voluntary overtime shifts to confound the scheduling efforts of their employer, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.

The union’s contract with Canada Customs expired in November and negotiations have hit an impasse. The government has offered a 2.25 per cent raise.

Customs personnel enforce many acts of Parliament, and often are forced to deal with drunk drivers, illegal immigrants, smugglers and other criminals. Customs officials haven’t had a cost-of-living increase in 10 years, and say they want the public to become more aware of the duties and tasks they face.

To this end, officials may be referring more travellers for secondary inspections or sending them to immigration officials rather than simply waving passengers through.
There could also be similar work-to-rule campaigns at airports and border crossings across Canada.

So far, Toronto appears to be the only port where job-action efforts are underway.
The union has complained that Canada Customs relies too heavily on overtime shifts and on part-time workers, who are often students without the training or experience to do the job properly.

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