"The most important issue in these talks is the health and safety of
the workers and of people living near railroads."
OTTAWA, Aug. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - After only a few days of bargaining, it
seems that the Canadian National Railway Company (CN) is bent on
provoking its workers to launch a strike, regardless of the insistence
of the union to pursue discussions.
Negotiations broke down last Friday and the company refuses to offer its
formal proposal to the workers' Negotiations Committee. Moreover, no
further dates of discussions are scheduled and the company refused an
extension of the conciliator's mandate.
In fact, CN wants to use the Labour Code to impose a settlement on the
parties rather than bargain by mutual agreement with the union of some
2700 conductors, yardmen and traffic coordinators. CN workers are
represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).
The union believes that Canadian National wants the Government to
quickly assign an arbitrator to the case, thus disabling the normal
bargaining process. These discussions started last May, as the
collective agreement ended in July. There were only six days of actual
bargaining before CN requested conciliation
"We have hardly begun discussions before the employer wants to end
them," explains Bryan Boechler, spokesperson for the TCRC Negotiations
Committee. "And we all know that it takes two to tango."
The health and safety of the workers and of the population are at
The rail company is proposing modifications to eliminate all provisions
pertaining to the rest period by arguing that they are outdated. The
workers could therefore be forced to work 24 of 32 hours, and then
re-start this cycle 8 hours later. The union believes that this proposal
will increase the risk of accidents.
"Let us be clear: the most important issue in these talks is the health
and safety of the workers and of people living near railroads, explains
Bryan Boechler, spokesperson for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.
"My worries are based on my experience on the field, not on a bogus
theory put forth by some managers of the company."
The conflict looming on the horizon therefore strangely resembles the
prevailing situation between the locomotive engineers and the company in
December of 2009. CN had wanted to unilaterally change the working
conditions of the locomotive engineers, which brought about a strike.
The health and safety of the workers and of the public were also at the
core of the dispute.
The union had no other choice but to send a strike vote by mail to its
members. The results are expected sometime between now and the end of
September. A walkout or a lockout could therefore take place in the Fall.
"We feel that they will lock us out or force a strike in order to have
the Government order arbitration, adds Boechler. We invite the company
to return to the bargaining table with an open attitude instead."
In closing, CN reports profits of $1.26 billion in 2009. This company
operates a transcontinental network of 28,200 km that serves several
Canadian provinces and American states. It crosses all of Canada from
East to West between Nova-Scotia and British Columbia; from North-South,
it crosses the United States between the region of the Great Lakes and
the Gulf of Mexico.
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all
trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters
Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference represents more than 14,000
workers in all trades of the rail industry throughout the country.
SOURCE Teamsters Canada
For further information: For further information:
|Bryan Boechler, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference|
|Cell phone: (780) 691-3008|
|Office: (780) 485-0889|
|Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications, Teamsters Canada|
|Cell phone: (514) 609-5101|
|Office: (450) 682-5521 x236|