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Unions warn Canadians to expect disruptions at airports and border crossings starting Friday | CBC News

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The unions representing Canada’s border agents are warning travellers to expect long lineups and delays at airports and border crossings if workers proceed with planned job action on Friday.

Around 8,500 workers represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) are set to take part in a work-to-rule strike which will see agents performing only the minimum amount of work required by their contracts.

“We truly hoped we wouldn’t be forced to take strike action, but we’ve exhausted every other avenue to reach a fair contract with the government,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC’s national president, in a media statement.

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The disruption could start just days before Canada begins easing border restrictions that will allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to enter Canada for non-essential purposes.

That change goes into effect on Monday, August 9.

The unions are warning that a work-to-rule strike will have a “dramatic impact” on the border reopening as well as Canada’s supply chain.

In addition to airports and land borders, the job action would also slow down operations at commercial shipping ports, postal facilities and CBSA offices.

Members of the unions voted to strike in late July. The unions say they are seeking better protection against harassment and discrimination, changes to what they call the CBSA’s “toxic workplace culture” and greater wage parity with other law enforcement agencies.

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The unions say they are returning to the bargaining table with the federal government today in the hopes of reaching a new deal before the strike is scheduled to begin — at 6 a.m. EDT on Friday.

The Treasury Board has said that the unions rejected what Ottawa considered a fair offer, which included wage adjustments and other provisions in line with other deals agreed to by PSAC.

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