Apparent labour dispute snares Peace Bridge traffic
Published Sunday, September 20, 2009 6:16PM EDT
Traffic was snared at the Peace Bridge near Fort Erie, Ont., Sunday because of an apparent labour dispute between guards and the Canada Border Services Agency.
The impact on the bridge was dramatic, as less than 200 vehicles per hour were permitted through the Canada-bound lanes. Normal capacity is about 1000 vehicles per hour.
Sources told CTV Toronto's Jim Junkin that 18 workers called in sick, meaning only three lanes out of a total of 15 could be opened.
Some drivers heading to Canada waited for more than two hours. Traffic was also bottlenecked in Buffalo, New York, for parts of the day.
The labour action is reportedly in protest of belt-tightening cuts by Ottawa, which have altered employee schedules and resulted in less overtime, Junkin reported.
As the day progressed and lines increased, the CBSA managed to open more stations by shuffling staff away from other crossings.
However, there is concern that the labour disruptions could spread to other crossings as workers voice their dissatisfaction with the federal government.
Neither CBSA management nor the union representing the border agents have issued any comments on the matter.
Meanwhile, across the province near Cornwall, the border crossing was again open Sunday after a dispute between the CBSA and protesters from the Akwesasne First Nation.
The Seaway International Bridge had to be shut down for a few hours on Saturday after the Mohawk band said the CBSA was seizing cars and fining locals who didn't report to guards after crossing the border.