Canada’s government is closely monitoring a dispute between the railway workers’ union and Canadian National Railway, and is urging both parties to continue talking, a spokesperson for Labour Minister Kellie Leitch said on Tuesday.
The Teamsters said Monday that talks had broken down, raising the possibility of a strike or a lockout at the country’s largest railway operator once a union-set October 28 deadline is passed, according to the Globe and Mail Tuesday.
CN Rail Labour Talks
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents 3,300 conductors, train, and yard workers and traffic co-ordinators with Canada’s largest railway company, said Monday that CN’s decision last week not to extend a conciliation process could lead to a strike or a lockout on October 28. The collective agreement expired on July 22.
The union said the talks have stalled over CN’s demands for concessions that would force workers to work longer hours with less rest time between trips, according to the Toronto Sun Monday. Wages and the retirement plan are not central issues in this bargaining round, the union said.
The union said the company’s demands fly in the face of its statements about safety being a priority.
A CN spokesperson said the company does not comment on the substance of ongoing labour negotiations, but stressed that CN’s bargaining proposals would not in any way compromise the health and safety of TCRC members.
CN remains optimistic it can negotiate an amicable settlement with the TCRC to avoid labour disruption in Canada Mark Hallman said to the Sun in an email.
Hallman also noted that the company has comprehensive safety programs in place designed to prevent accidents.