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Labour dispute slows border service at Emerson

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OTTAWA – Travellers may find longer than usual waits at the Emerson border crossing today as border guards, upset at a new name-tag policy, have walked off the job.

According to the CBSA, several workers at the Emerson crossing withdrew their services this afternoon because of a new policy that border guards must wear name tags.

The guards and their union, the Customs and Immigration Union, argue the name tags is a health and safety hazard.

The work stoppage comes a day after the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Labour Programs ruled in several Ontario cases that wearing name tags is not a danger to border guards. Border guards in Ontario returned to work.

A spokeswoman for Minister Vic Toews said the department is disappointed at this latest extreme protest.

"The RCMP and other provincial and municipal police forces across the country who provide the public with transparency through wearing name tags," said Julie Carmichael.

"CBSA should be no different. We urge these workers to air their grievances in an appropriate manner – not in a way that targets Canadian workers, travellers and Canada’s economy."

The union sent a note to members last week reminding them of the work the union is doing to fight against the policy but did not urge work stoppages.

"Members who choose to take action should be reminded of the 'obey now, grieve later' approach so as to avoid unnecessary discipline from the employer," reads the Dec. 6 memo.

It is not clear yet what the delay at the Emerson border crossing will be. As of 12:48 p.m., there was no wait for personal travelers and a 20-minute delay for commercial vehicles.

Travellers can consult border wait times on the CBSA website at www.cbsa.gc.ca. Mobile travellers can follow the CSBA on Twitter for hourly border wait time updates at @CBSA_BWT.

Mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 2:04 PM CST: Rewritten, added comment from Toews' office.

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