May 10, 2024 | Circular No. 11665

Dear Member,

You will find below two important updates with respect to labour negotiations with potential impacts on shipping activity and supply chain operations:

CBSA Negotiations

As you may be aware, 9,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) who work at CBSA have been conducting a strike vote since mid-April.  The results of that vote have not yet been made public, but we have been informed by CBSA of the possibility of strike-related activity by border service officers beginning in late May or early to mid-June.

Although 90 percent of CBSA’s front line officers are considered to be “essential” workers, a strike could nevertheless lead to increases in border wait times, picketing outside CBSA premises, and actions to  impede the movement of goods and travelers across the border, such as referring high volumes of cargo for secondary exams, subjecting travelers to increased questioning, etc.  We have been in close contact with CBSA on this issue, and they advise that are actively working to plan for these situations and have developed mitigation strategies to ensure the continuity of operations to the greatest extent possible.

It is worth noting that should the results of the union’s strike vote be positive, PSAC would be in a legal position to strike to seven days after the Public Interest Commission (which has been holding hearings with both parties) releases its non-binding recommendations to reach an agreement (assuming the union’s issuance of the appropriate 72 hour strike notice).

We will be monitoring this situation closely and will provide members with additional updates (including the results of the union’s strike vote), as it becomes available.

Rail Negotiations

The federal Minister of Labour has asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to review whether a strike by rail workers would jeopardize Canadians’ health and safety, adding a new element of uncertainty in the lead-up to potential job action.  More specifically, the Minister has submitted a question to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to determine whether rail activity must continue during a strike or lockout to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to examine what, if any, critical shipments should continue in the event of a work stoppage.

Given that a legal strike or lockout cannot occur until the CIRB renders its decision, this could potentially delay the earliest possible date of a strike, which is currently May 22nd (there is no set timeline within which the CIRB must render a decision).

We  will provide additional information on the above as it becomes available.


Karen Kancens
Vice President