WATCH: Disruptions Could be on the Way at Canada's Border

AM800-News-Border-Agent

Strike action won't close Canadian borders, but it will slow things down.

That's according to Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) President Mark Weber, which represents Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) workers.

On Wednesday, he told CTV Windsor that workers want the CBSA to address discrimination, workplace violence and remote work — they're also looking for a salary increase on par with other law-enforcement agencies.

Weber says more than 6,800 workers have been without a contract since 2017 and 500 of those workers are in Windsor, Ont.

"They're really upset that it's come to this and we're being shown this level of disrespect," he says. "Windsor, Ont. is Canada's busiest commercial port, so that will be a huge deal at the border in terms of slow downs if we decide to go that way."

He says staff will only perform tasks needed to secure Canada's borders if strike action is taken.

"Things we wouldn't have to do include things like collecting duties and taxes, providing information, that kind of thing," he added.

He says workers have held their post throughout the pandemic.

"Our members' work over [the COVID-19 pandemic] has been nothing short of heroic," he says. "We've worked through probably the most difficult work circumstance that anyone has lived."

Members voted in favour of taking strike action if a new deal isn't reached by Aug. 6.

Ottawa plans to reopen Canada's land borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens for non-essential travel on Aug. 9.

In a statement to CTV Windsor, the CBSA says:

"We will respond quickly to any job action or work disruption in order to maintain the safety and security of our border ensure compliance with our laws and keep the border open to legitimate travellers and goods.  We expect that our officers will continue to fulfill their duties with the highest level of integrity and professionalism."

The Public Service Alliance of Canada tells AM800 News that both sides are returning to the table Thursday, but declined to comment further out of, "respect for the bargaining process."

— with files from CTV Windsor's Angelo Aversa.