Canadian National's demands for concessions could have repercussions on the health and safety of the public and workers alike…
MONTREAL, Sept. 23, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian National (CN) is seeking conciliation in its negotiations with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), which represents some 3,300 conductors, trainmen, yardmen and traffic coordinators.
The company - slated to make almost $3 billion in profits this year - doesn't seem to want to negotiate directly with the Union. The scenario could therefore end up being a repeat of the 2010 negotiations when a strike was narrowly avoided.
The main issues: health and safety
"CN is once again trying to get us to make concessions that would see our members work longer hours, be onboard the trains, have less rest time between each trip, and perform more work when alone," explained Roland Hackl, union spokesperson and one of the TCRC negotiators. "We're very concerned about how these concessions would affect the health and safety of both Canadians and our members."
The employer maintains that these demands seek to "eliminate artificial restrictions," whereas Teamsters believes the concessions will reduce the number of workers and increase the workload and hours of those who remain.
"The railway's attitude will more than likely lead to a labour dispute," conceded Hackl. "The Lac-Mégantic tragedy can't be in vain: the health and safety of workers and the public are not negotiable. Period."
High turnover at CN
The TCRC's officers foresee a high crew turnover in the years ahead as more people take retirement. Instead of replacing the retirees, CN plans to increase the workload of the remaining employees.
Moreover, the railway manages to hold on to less than a third of new recruits, a clear indication that working conditions need to improve.
"Operating a train carrying 15,000 tonnes of hazardous material is no small task," said the union spokesperson. "Our members have to be properly trained and be sufficiently rested to ensure the safety of people living close to rail tracks. Many of our members are currently on duty for a 12-hour shift, go home for 8 hours and then come back for another 12 hours. It's exhausting and unreasonable to continually expect that"
The collective agreement expired on July 22nd, 2013.
The Teamsters represents 115,000 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.
SOURCE: Teamsters Canada
For further information:
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications