Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

Customs and Immigration Union (CIU)

September 01, 2005 14:00 ET

CEUDA to McLellan: Secure Border or Get Set for More Work Refusals

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 1, 2005) - Dramatic events took place yesterday at the Rainbow, Peace and Queenston Bridges in Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, ON, that prompted more than forty full-time Customs Officers, including student tasked with Customs duties, to exercise their rights under the Labour Code to refuse dangerous work.

Labour Affairs Officers are still assessing the situation and Customs Officers at those locations continue to be on work-refusal status with no sign of a quick resolution in sight.

Ron Moran, representing 10,500 members, at the Canada Revenue Agency and the Customs Border Services Agency (CBSA), more than 5,000 of whom are Customs Officers that include Canada's uniformed Officers working on the front-lines, as well as the Investigation, Intelligence, and Trade Customs Officers, says, "While the situation at the bridges will likely be remembered as an inconvenience to Customs management who direct operations at those bridges, and to travellers and commerce that cross the bridges, we will always remember it as the day Customs Officers finally decided that they won't let this Government continue to treat them like they're nothing more than moving targets."

Moran adds that "It's exactly because we're concerned about the security of our members and because they've been silenced and prevented by CBSA to speak about the real dangers of their jobs that we hired the Northgate Group to do a national, unbiased study and assess whether work at the border warrants the issuance of sidearms to our members. The deployment of armed police officers to the border yesterday proves what our members have been saying: there's a need for an armed presence."

The study is necessitated after CBSA officials took the unprecedented step of deleting portions from a third-party job hazard analysis that recommended an armed presence at Canada's 6 biggest land border crossings. This revelation was confirmed by Senator Colin Kenny and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence in their recent report entitled Border Insecurity (June 2005) when they noted that the Government-commissioned ModuSpec report was deliberately 'altered' in precisely the area CEUDA is now examining.

Moran continues, "It's troubling to see CBSA officials continue to hide behind a job hazard analysis confirmed to be falsified and use it to deny the need for an armed presence at the border."

CEUDA applauds its members for standing up and being heard at the bridges and the dozens of Customs and Immigration Officers who've met with Northgate thus far; Northgate is currently in British Columbia and going next to Quebec.

Moran says, "CBSA Officers will be heard, Canadians will know about their border and what CBSA is hiding and denying. More importantly, our members won't risk their lives anymore and it's clear based on what's just happened that the lives of members won't be needlessly put at risk anymore when dangerous individuals are known to be approaching the border. Our members want to do the job of protecting the border but they need to properly protect themselves to do that. Until that happens, work refusals will likely reoccur."

Contact Information

    Ron Moran
    National President
    (613) 677-1090
    Erik Lupien
    Communications and Political Coordination Officer
    (613) 723-8008