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VIDEO: Canadian border officers rally at Peace Arch Park

Union says part-time hours cancelled ‘for no real reason’ will have greatest effect on women

Border officers gathered at Peace Arch Park Wednesday (March 8) to protest “unacceptable” news that part-time frontline positions are being returned to full-time.

According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the move – reportedly affecting dozens of employees across the Pacific Highway District, including at the Pacific Highway and Douglas ports – is “forcing workers to choose between their careers and their family obligations… on very short notice and for no real reason.”

“This is an exercise in paperwork that does nothing to solve short staffing at CBSA,” Customs and Immigration Union national president Mark Weber said in a news release.

Affected employees were advised of the return to full-time shifts last week.

On Wednesday afternoon, around 60 people were gathered at Peace Arch Park, including border officers and their families, as well as other allies, who were there to “show our employer that we are not going to stop, we’re going to keep fighting,” as one employee said at the rally.

Union officials say the move is among concessions sought by the employer that would weaken workers’ ability to juggle work and family.

A spokesperson for Canada Border Services Agency said Tuesday (March 7) that not all part-time positions are reverting to a full-time schedule.

“All discretionary part-time agreements are regularly reviewed based on the operational demands and needs of the various work locations,” the spokesperson said by email.

“The CBSA invests significant effort annually to plan and prepare for peak periods, such as summer months and holiday long weekends, and takes measures to ensure that there are sufficient resources available to adequately manage the border. Operational needs may require management to withdraw some part time agreements on a case-by-case basis.”

Wednesday’s gathering – planned for International Women’s Day because female employees will be the majority of those affected – was described as a “fun, family-friendly, event” for 2-3 p.m. in the picnic area accessed off of Beach Road.

- with file from Sobia Moman
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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