Thousands of CN Rail employees are on strike, but talks continue

20 Novembre, 2019, 02:32 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • First CN Rail strike in decade piles more woes on battered Western farmers

"We have seen the severe consequences of rail backlogs before", said Devin Dreeshen, minister of agriculture and forestry.

Alberta is calling on the federal government to address the labour action by recalling parliament and enacting emergency back-to-work legislation. "Now that we are in a strike, we expect the Government of Canada to act quickly to protect Canada's potash exports".

Trudeau unveils his new cabinet on Wednesday ahead of the planned return of Parliament on December 5. "The entire economy of Alberta and Canada could be extremely impacted by the failure to move, not only our energy products, but every single product".

"(Wheat farmers) went through a season where they invested in the production of their crop, they had a very hard harvest and, in addition, many had to dry it and many didn't even get the whole crop off", Brooks said. "Once those shipments start to stop and get delayed it piles up like a snowball".

While Alberta farmers would normally be harvesting their canola crops now, untold acres of the crop remain in the fields buried under a layer of snow.

CN said in a statement that it is committed to constructive talks and will continue negotiating in good faith in order to reach an agreement before Tuesday's deadline.

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"The oil industry is concerned about any developments that can negatively impact the availability of rail capacity, particularly in light of the current shortage of available pipeline capacity relative to oil production in Western Canada", Brunnen said.

CN workers voted in favor of a strike in September after negotiations failed to produce a contract.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union served CN on Saturday notice of intent to strike, demanding longer rests and medicine benefits for the safety of the workers and the railway services.

University of Manitoba supply chain management professor Barry Prentice said the challenge for companies moving goods by rail is finding storage if the work stoppage drags on.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the government is concerned about the impact of a work stoppage on Canadians, but remains hopeful the two sides will reach an agreement. In a November 16 statement, Hajdu said the federal government is monitoring the situation closely and "has faith" in the collective bargaining process.

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