FB Work-to-Rule: Frequently Asked Questions

As of 6 a.m. Friday, August 6, the FB bargaining unit will be in a legal strike position. Here are some frequently asked questions that can assist you when speaking with FB members. This document will serve as a resource to support FB members’ work-to-rule strike action, as approved by the National Strategy Coordinating Committee (NSCC). This strategy may change as we escalate our activities

Work-to-Rule Questions
  1. What is a Work-to-Rule? 

    Work-to-rule is job action in which employees do their jobs exactly as outlined by the rules of their contract or job description, and precisely follow all safety or other regulations and manuals which may cause a slowdown or decrease in productivity as they are no longer working during breaks or during unpaid extended hours and weekends (checking email, for instance).  Notable examples have included nurses refusing to answer telephones, teachers refusing to work for free at night and during weekends and holidays, and police officers refusing to issue citations. Refusal to work overtime, travel on duty, or sign up to other tasks requiring employee assent are other manifestations of using work-to-rule.  In a sense, "work-to-rule" involves applying tothe-letter rules that are normally set aside or interpreted less literally to increase efficiency or refraining from activities which are customary but not required by rule or job description.

    Work-to-Rule should in no way jeopardize the safety and security of Canada. All duties relating to the safety and security of Canada are essential and in fact should be done with more diligence and in line with all enforcement manuals and legislation.

    This is step one of our work-to-rule plan. This is in no way an exhaustive list. We are asking you to use your discretion to do your job how you were trained to do it, in accordance with all manuals and legislation. Work-to-rule means doing your job to the letter of the law. Consult manuals and legislation. We are not responsible for CBSA’s chronic understaffing. We are not here to help management at this juncture. They have shown no respect to you at the bargaining table.

    Since a work-to-rule does not involve walking off the job and does not include picket lines, strike pay provisions do not apply. We expect you to continue to be paid as normal by the employer.

  2. Why a work-to-rule?

    A work-to-rule can be combined with other non-strike actions such as rallies and political pressure on MPs on days of rest and lunch hours, Strike Alert stickers in the workplace, etc. In addition, due to the high number of FBs deemed essential, a work-to-rule allows EVERY FB member, whether you are uniformed or non-uniformed, essential or non-essential, to come out strong in full force – together – on Friday at 6 a.m.

    Below we will outline exactly what a work-to-rule could look like for each mode of work in the FB unit, but first wish to clarify that these should only be done if they do not compromise the health and safety or human rights of Canadians, and do not abuse your authority under the legislation.
  3. What if I am on annual leave when a work-to-rule starts?

    The employer can cancel leave at any time. Normally they do not cancel leave that has been previously approved, but will not approve new leave during strike action.
  4. Can we give out the superintendent’s, chief’s, and/or director’s, work numbers for public inquiries, complaints, etc.?

    Absolutely! In fact, we encourage this, as well as for any question that does not directly relate to your job description and duties (i.e., what is the currency exchange rate, where is the nearest gas station, etc.).
  5. What happens if a member does not follow the work-to-rule?

    A work-to-rule is considered strike action even if there are not picket lines that can be crossed. If you notice a member who is not following the work-to-rule, speak to them and make sure they are aware of the strike action.
  6. How does a work-to-rule interact with the Essential Services Agreement?

    Removal of further non-essential duties is a possible future escalation tactic, but for now, only do your job exactly as you have been trained to without being pressured to speed through or cut corners. The essential services letter will come into play if we escalate to different strike tactics.
  7. What should I do if my manager disciplines me for participating in a work-to-rule?

    You can protest that you are upholding the professional standards of your workplace as you have been trained to do – that is exactly what a work-to-rule is. You should also ask your manager for their request in writing and make sure to contact your branch president and PSAC Regional Office right away to make sure they know and can intervene.
  8. What if I am on secondment during the Work-to-Rule?

    You are not able to participate in the Work-to-Rule.
Work-to-Rule Strategies
  1. General:
    • Conduct full primary as trained (ex. value, OGD, language, etc.).
    • No assessment or collection of duties and taxes. This does not mean waving people through. Question, examine, determine the exemption, and allow them to leave.
    • Ensure you are taking notes in accordance with the EN Manual Part 8 chapter 1.
    • Demand any order in writing, especially those that require shortcuts, or ordering of nonessential work.
    • All inspections and searches to be done by the book, as per training and legislation. • Do not accept any voluntary overtime.
    • On August 6, you can request to cancel any advanced voluntary overtime.
    • Do not answer employer calls on off hours, on breaks or on lunches.
    • Take all breaks, and only work scheduled work hours.
    • You can coordinate with your coworkers so that you all take your breaks together.
    • Abandon all managerial acting assignments.
    • You can request to return to your substantive position.
    • If a client or stakeholder asks any questions outside of your job description, do not provide an answer. Direct them to your supervisor, either in person or by providing their number so the client can call them directly.
    • Do not assist with any clients’ paperwork (A23, ArriveCan, Carnet, etc.) unless it would compromise their human rights.
    • Report to upper management any manager who releases referrals without exam. This can be reported to Professional Standards as well, as it is a clear code of conduct violation.
    • Check all PPE to ensure it is not expired or broken, do not proceed if it is.
    • We have used discretion to reduce wait times and workloads, this is the time to follow the manual unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • No training or travelling on DRs.
  2. Land Traveler
    • Ask all mandatory questions to all travelers to reach point of finality for each.
    • Do not assist travellers with the ArriveCan app unless it would compromise their human rights.
    • No discretion with ArriveCan requirements for quarantine – it must be completed prior to arrival. If not, refer to PHAC/return to the U.S.
    • Refer clients to PHAC when required and nothing more – the quarantine act only requires the referral to PHAC, all functions other than referral are the responsibility of PHAC.
    • No assistance completing any forms (F1, B4, etc.).
    • Refer every doubt for exam.
    • Search all food, plants and animals in AIRS unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • Refer all watercraft for inspection unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • Refer all pets for rabies certificate and check unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • All personal info completed in GCMS including address, DL numbers, marital status, description.
    • Refresh on manuals and bulletins before any work shift.
    • 1029s, admissibility checks done 100 per cent on Direct Backs, traveler should not be returned until GCMS entry is complete.
    • Purpose of trip referrals after Aug 9  on U.S. travelers can be very exhaustive; contemplate visitor’s record for questionable travel, call and inquire on family and friends.
    • Proof of vaccination paperwork referrals.
    • Offer TRPs to applicable travelers (ensure TRPs SOPs followed to the letter).
  3. Air Traveler​ 
    • Ask all primary questions.
    • Refer all doubts.
    • Do not preprint work and study permits.
    • Update all contact information in GCMS for all permits given in Immigration.
    • No pulling referrals at point (i.e. language, FPA, etc).
    • Conduct appropriate searches (high/low intensity).
    • Upon completion of exam, no assessing and charging of duties and taxes.
    • Do not assist with the completion of any paperwork (Carnet, A23 etc.) unless it would compromise their human rights.
  4. Land Commercial
    • Verify contents and piece counts.
    • Ask all Primary questions.
    • Verify documents, commercial paperwork, invoices in Across.
    • Verify each page of EDI.
    • Process and review every item in LTL loads, refer any possible prohibited or controlled items.
    • Research all possible country of origin, Health Canada, AIRS, CITIES, CFIA, etc. investigations
    • Examine and offload every truck cab, check every truck, and NCIC check every FN driver unless certain of no violation or concern. Country of origin, piece count, HS code, AIRS, Health Canada, CFIA, value, controlled or prohibited items all examined completely as you have been trained to do.
    • Examination notes in system, noting if resultant.
    • All shipments physically verified through offload unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • 7 & 14 point inspections.
    • Verify both truck and trailer plates.
    • Verify seal numbers in the FAST lane.
    • Run carrier, licence plates, shipper, consignee through ICES. 
  5. Air Commercial
    • No collecting of duties and taxes at the counter – $0 entry.
    • Verify classification of goods.
    • Refer OGD for determination.
    • Conduct aircraft exams.
    • General Aviation – baggage and aircraft searches, 100 per cent exams, individual interviews.
    • Open and examine courier shipments unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • No Y50s.
    • CAP, do not de-select any referrals.
    • Verify contents and piece counts. 
  6. Postal
    • At primary, be sure to visually examine all mail.
    • Follow the legislation – PIRO is $20.
    • In secondary, be sure to open and verify all mail unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • If nothing requires further referral to OGD/ENF, DO NOT assess duties and taxes.
    • Check all food in AIRS unless certain of no violation or concern.
    • Refer for Health Canada, CITES and invoicing.  
  7. Marine
    • Attend marinas to meet and clear TRC referrals, currently set at 100 per cent.
    • Only search commercial vessels targeted by the National Targeting Centre.
    • During vessel searches, muster all crew and conduct face checks for passports and mandatory COVID-19 screening.
    • CBSA boat operations when vessel targeted by the NTC 
  8. Telework
    • Ask that all instructions be delivered in writing. (i.e., no verbal duties or tasks, projects assigned)
    • Check email only when you are free, not on demand.
    • Do not answer calls, emails or texts when you are working on something else.
    • Place MS teams on offline mode when completing tasks.
    • Conduct union-mandated workplace standard assessments. 
  9. Hearings
    • No training, mentoring or meetings not explicitly outlined in your job description or manuals.
    • No putting away files/clerical work (closing files).
    • Opt out of ADRs.
    • No consultation with counsel outside of hearings unless not doing so would compromise health and safety.
    • Check email once or twice per day only.
    • No participation on voluntary committees.
    • Don't review any late disclosure.
  10. 31s
    • Ensure notes are taken for every client interaction.
    • Complete all paperwork / get all required authorizations prior to meeting with client.
    • Attend all calls from POEs.
    • Notes to file for all stakeholder interactions
  11. Rail
    • All officers in commercial increase secondary exam for rail when reviewing EDI and paper entries.
    • Don’t feel pressured to conduct tail gate exams, do full offload when you see fit. 
PSAC Regional Office Contacts

Regional Office 

Regional Representative(s) 


Phone number  


Luc Richard 





Sancia Doret 



St. John’s  

Allison Doyle  


(709) 726-8815 


Patrick Leblanc 




Jovanka Ivic 



Ottawa / Gatineau 

Stephanie Penwarden 




Paige Galette 




Joan-Ann Gravesande 




Nancy Johnson 



Thunder Bay  

Sandra Goodick 


(807) 345-8442 


Morgan Oddie 




Mat Ashworth 




Diane White 




Carm Chan 




Lindsey Sparks 




James Little 




Robert Strang 




Joshua Paddon 



CIU Branch President Contacts




Newfoundland & Labrador 

Jon Ross 


Nova Scotia 

Derek Brackeley 


New Brunswick 

Joey Dunphy 



Luc Moreau 


Eastern Townships 

Julie Poulin 



Mathieu Landry 



Philippe Piette 


Niagara Falls 

Nick Lela 


London / Kitchener 

Stewart Saunderson 



Alissa Howe 



Alana Baarschers 



Nic Southall 


Fort Erie 

Gus Kontogianis 



Frances Baroutoglou 


Northern Ontario 

Andrew Wiersema 


Eastern Ontario 

Kimberly Sweeney 



Kyle Hudson 



Brea Baresinkoff 



Mark West 



David Knoblauch 


B.C. Coastal 

Leanne Hughes 


B.C. Southern 

Keith Palmer 



Charles Khoury 


Future Strike Action

The work-to-rule strategy is just the first step in our strike activities. Other types of strikes, including a general strike, rotating strikes and strategic strikes, are all options under consideration for the next phases as we ramp up our strike action. Only then will essential and non-essential designations come into play. 

All future strike activity will be carefully planned out by PSAC and CIU, taking into consideration strategic activities and the health and safety of members during the pandemic. 
There are many kinds of strikes:

  • Work-to-rule

    A work-to-rule is when workers obey all the laws and rules applying to their work (i.e., through legislation or the collective agreement), but perform their work more slowly or follow “the letter of the law” to stall productivity.

    You have the right to do this under labour legislation. In a 2009 decision, the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) also indicated that Border Services Officers (BSOs) aren’t required to collect taxes and duties if taking work-to-rule action. 
  • General strike

    A PSAC general strike is a cessation of work by all PSAC members in a bargaining unit. (General strike pay provisions apply.)
  • Rotating strike

    A rotating strike is a series of surprise, up to day-long work stoppages of all bargaining unit members at various strategic geographic locations. (e.g., Ontario members on Monday, Quebec members on Tuesday, etc.) (General strike pay provisions apply.)
  • Strategic strike

    A strategic strike is a work stoppage by a limited number of members of a bargaining unit at a limited number of locations. The strategic strike includes up to 10 per cent of the members of a bargaining unit. Strategic strikes are designed to have the greatest impact on the employer’s operation. Strategic strikes are approved by the leadership of the union based on strategic plans of action. (Strategic strike pay provisions apply.) 
PSAC's leadership will develop a plan and determine when, where and for how long strike actions will happen. For more information on the PSAC strike structures, please see the PSAC Strike Manual
Next steps

If you have any other questions about the strike action, please contact your branch president, your PSAC regional office, or refer to the PSAC Strike Manual.
We make tremendous gains when we exercise our right to strike. It’s one of our most effective tools to ensure the employer understands we deserve respect and listens to our demands. Keep these things in mind when you speak with your family, people in your community, and other union members. We are stronger together. 



August 4, 2021