More than 3,000 employees walked off the job Tuesday
By Diego Flammini
Staff at one of Canada’s national railways are striking.
On Saturday, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), which represents more than 3,000 conductors, trainpersons and yardpersons at Canadian National Railway (CN), served the company with notice of its intent to strike.
Under the Canada Labour Code, a union must give an employer a written 72-hour strike notice. Workers walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday.
The previous collective agreement between the two parties expired on July 23.
Exercising the right to strike will help ensure employee safety.
“Fatigue has been recognized by the Transportation Safety Board as a major safety problem in this industry. Too many railroaders are operating trains when they should be resting,” Lyndon Isaak, president of the TCRC, said in a statement. “For the safety of all Canadians, we cannot allow CN to make it even harder for our members to get the rest they need.”
The strike action also comes after CN celebrated a good start to the 2019-2020 crop year.
The railway moved 2.8 million metric tonnes of grain in October, breaking the previous record of 2.7 million metric tonnes in April 2019.
Producers can ill afford a delay in grain transportation.
“We’ve certainly been monitoring the situation and it’s a huge blow if we lost our rail shipments,” John Guelly, chair of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, told Farms.com. “Our canola products are shipped via rail, and this strike would certainly cause a lot of congestion on top of all the other problems we’re having.
“If elevators and crushers can’t ship product by rail, it’s going to backlog everything and stop delivery. And if you can’t deliver a product, you’re not going to get a cheque for anything.”