Canada Border Services Agency workers, represented by the Customs and Immigration Union, hold an information picket and demonstrate in Saint John on July 2, 2021 (Image: Joey Dunphy / submitted)

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers demand a fair contract after more than three years of negotiations.

Employees held an information picket and demonstrated in Port Saint John on Friday morning to voice their concerns and frustrations.

Joey Dunphy is the 3rd National Vice President of the Customs and Immigration Union, which represents the thousands of workers.

Dunphy said that after years of trying to come to an agreement, there hasn’t been any significant movement on some of their key issues.

“It’s about getting parities with other federal law enforcement agencies. We want to be treated with respect, we want to have the same protection against discipline and harassment, ”Dunphy said in an interview.

Dunphy said the federal government has sung the praises of CBSA workers throughout the pandemic, but is unwilling to negotiate at the bargaining table.

As a law enforcement agency, Dunphy said its members should have access to the same benefits as other federal law enforcement agencies.

“It is important that we start to put pressure on the government just to make sure that we come to a fair deal for our members,” he said.

Dunphy said the union held strike votes and members have indicated they are ready to strike if necessary.

But he reiterated that the strike is their last resort, noting that it could have far-reaching impacts.

“Once in a legal strike position, we can slow down traffic, work tirelessly, a rotating strike, or just like we did this morning, have a picket line,” Dunphy said.

Dunphy said the union had received “significant” support from its affiliates at the International Longshoremen Association, who refused to cross Friday’s information picket line.

“Imagine if on strike if we show up there and stay there for a long time, it’s going to have a huge impact on how the port works,” he said.

Strike votes are expected to continue across the country over the next few weeks, Dunphy said.

The Customs and Immigration Union represents frontline customs and immigration officers, investigation, intelligence and business client officers, law enforcement officers and immigration hearings inland, as well as CBSA support staff.

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