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Ag groups monitoring CN situation

Ag groups monitoring CN situation

Railway employees could go on strike by mid-November

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Farm organizations are keeping a close eye on collective bargaining between a national railway and its workers’ union.

Members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) at Canadian National (CN) could go on strike as of Tuesday, Nov. 19.

The next round of talks between the union, the railway and mediators is scheduled on Nov. 12.

The union will provide 72 hours of notice before the strike goes into effect.

“We will continue to negotiate in good faith with Canadian National in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement,” Lyndon Isaak, president of the TCRC, said in a statement.

The previous agreement between the union and the railway expired in July. Last month, about 3,000 employees voted almost unanimously in favour of a strike.

Farmers in Manitoba have harvested 85 per cent of their crops, Manitoba Agriculture’s Oct. 29 Crop Report says. That number is down from the three-year average of 94 per cent. So, farmers still have crops to harvest and transport.

The Port of Thunder Bay, the closest port to Manitoba, is also scheduled to close for the season in January.

So the timing of the strike could be problematic for the industry.

“We’re certainly monitoring the situation to see what happens,” Bill Campbell, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, told Farms.com. “The timing, as far as grain movement before Thunder Bay closes up for the winter, is not good. We have gotten crops to the elevator, but we run such a tight and coordinated effort to get grain to export, that any disruptions to that process is a concern.”

Canadian Pacific (CP), Canada’s other national railway, reached a new deal with its employees in May 2018.

That agreement included a four-year deal with conductors and engineers at CP, and a five-year agreement with conductors and engineers at Kootenay Valley Railway.

Farms.com has reached out to other farm groups for comment on the CN situation.

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