Normal operations will resume Wednesday
By Diego Flammini
Multiple industries are breathing sighs of relief after one of Canada’s national railways and the union representing its employees reached a deal.
Canadian National Railway (CN) and Teamsters Canada have come to a tentative agreement that will see more than 3,000 conductors, trainpersons and yard workers resume normal operations at 6:00 a.m. local times on Wednesday.
“I am pleased to announce that we’ve reached a tentative agreement with CN. I would like to thank our members for their incredible courage and solidarity,” Francois Laporte, president of Teamsters Canada, said in a statement Tuesday.
CN employees went on strike on Nov. 19 citing safety concerns and other issues.
Union members still need to vote on the deal and ratify it. The results of the vote are expected to be released within eight weeks, and no further job action will occur during that time.
The stoppage in freight movement rippled through multiple industries that rely on CN to transport items like grain and propane across the country or to ports for further export.
Ag industry representatives are happy to see the two sides come to an agreement, especially at a crucial time for Canadian farmers.
“We’re extremely pleased to understand that cars will be on rails tomorrow and we can get back to business,” Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com.
Though the strike only lasted a week, it put additional stressors and costs on the industry.
“We only have a certain number of days to get everything done before winter shuts us down,” Robinson said. “We know there are ports filled with ships incurring hefty demurrage costs, which will be passed onto producers. We know the strike had an impact on cash flow because, if you’re not getting crop to market, you’re not getting paid for it.
“And the shortage of propane affected any crop that’s been harvested and needs to be dried down.”
The propane shortage also affected livestock producers who need the fuel to heat barns.
Federal ministers are also pleased that the CN strike is over.
“We congratulate and thank both CN and the Teamsters for staying at the table and coming to an agreement for the benefit of all Canadians,” Labour Minister Filomena Tassi and Transport Minister Marc Garneau told Farms.com in a joint statement. “We would also like to recognize the important work of the mediators from our Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.”