About 3,200 Canadian National Railway conductors, trainpersons, and yard workers could go on strike just after midnight tonight if a deal isn’t reached with the company, said Canadian Press Monday morning.
The Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference, the union representing the employees, gave the required 72-hour notice on the weekend. The union says it hopes to reach an agreement before the deadline to address safety and scheduling issues, but workers are prepared to walk off the job if their expectations aren’t met.
A CN Rail strike now could be a big blow to Canadian sawmills as lumber and forestry products are invariably the last to resume service when there is a disruption in rail transport. – Madison’s Lumber Reporter
The workers, who have been without a contract since July 23, say they’re concerned about long hours, fatigue, and what they consider dangerous working conditions. They are also fighting against a lifetime cap on prescription drug coverage.
The labour dispute comes as CN Rail confirmed Friday that it was cutting 1,600 jobs across the railway as it deals with a weakening North American economy that has eroded demand.
Canadian Labour Minister Patty Hajdu traveled to Montreal on Monday to meet representatives from both sides.
In a Nov. 16 statement, Hajdu said the federal government is monitoring the situation closely and “has faith” in the collective bargaining process.
Madison’s will have more updates this week as they happen.