Thousands of Canada Border Services Agency members began a work-to-rule strike, bringing delays to major truck crossings as talks between the unions and government continue.   

Nearly 9,000 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees began the work-to-rule strike — effectively a collective slowdown — at ports of entry across the country on Friday morning as delays mounted for trucks at some of the busiest border crossings. 

The job action started at 6 a.m. as talks between the federal government and the border officers’ union continued into the morning. 

“Our … bargaining team has been at the table all night, and we’re giving them a bit more time to negotiate,” the Public Service Alliance of Canada tweeted. “In the meantime, work-to-rule actions have started across the country.”

Trucks entering Canada faced significant delays at five border crossings linking New York and Michigan ranging from 40 minutes to over an hour as of 8:45 a.m., according to the CBSA website. At the Ambassador Bridge, the busiest commercial crossing between the U.S. and Canada, the wait was 55 minutes. 

The delays offered an early preview to what likely will hit borders and ports across the country if the labor action continues. 

The unions representing the CBSA officers, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and its Customs and Immigration Union, warned that the work-to-rule strike could have a “dramatic impact to Canada’s supply chain.” 

The CBSA personnel are seeking an increase in pay in line with other Canadian law enforcement agencies and changes to working conditions.

The federal government has said it has already made a fair offer. 

CBSA personnel who perform essential duties, including front-line officers, are barred from going on strike. But the definition of essential doesn’t include collection of duties and taxes and maintaining stakeholder relations, according to a federal labor tribunal ruling. 

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