(VIDEO) Border Services Officers Demand Respect And A Contract

Border Services officers across the country, including Windsor, are demanding respect and a contract.

About 150 of them, along with support from other local unions,  staged a noon hour rally at College Ave. and Huron Church Rd. in West Windsor calling for a new collective agreement.

The rally did not affect traffic or crossing the border.

The 550 workers in Windsor, members of the Customs and Immigration Union, have been without a contract for 3.5 years.

They want wage parity with other law enforcement agencies and job protection.

Union Local 18 President Ken Turner says they are currently one of the lowest paid agencies in the federal government.

"We enforce over 91 Acts of Parliament including drugs and firearms legislation," he says.  "Yet the federal government refuses to recognize us as legitimate law enforcement officers."

He says a movement towards automation at the border is also a threat to public safety in Canada.

"We want better protection for our workers and we want to be paid on par with other law enforcement agencies and to be recognized as such. We want greater security for Canadians."


Border officers, members of Customs and Immigration Union, have been without a contract since June 2014. (Photo by AM800's Teresinha Medeiros)

National Union President Jean-Pierre Fortin attended the rally in Windsor and says border guards are the first line of defence for this country.

"Keep in mind that we are the second biggest law enforcement armed force in Canada. Equal work for equal pay. We want to have the working conditions that police officers are getting because at the border, we are police officers."

Although they can not strike, they can take part in job action which union officials say will escalate if the government doesn't treat them like other law enforcement agencies.

Fortin says job action could escalate in the spring that could impact commercial traffic.