Teamsters: No progress at negotiating table as CN strike enters fourth day

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MONTREAL – It appears there is no end in sight for the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference’s four-day-old strike against Canadian National.

A spokesperson for the Teamsters says “no substantive progress” has been made at the negotiating table in recent days although the union and railroad continue to meet with federal mediators. TCRC President Lyndon Isaak says safety is the union’s primary concern.

“We are fighting for the safest workplace possible. We’ve lost nine of our members in various railway accidents over the past 24 months, including three from the group at CN that’s currently on strike,” Isaak says.

According to the Teamsters, CN has expanded its use of remote-control locomotives in yards despite protests from the union. The union has also complained that CN has made it harder for employees to take time off, increasing the risk of fatigue-related incidents. CN officials have rejected the union’s claims.

Conductors, train persons, and yard workers walked out at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The railroad and the union have been in negotiations for seven months and have been working with federal mediators for the last five months. The railroad’s previous labor agreement expired in July.

This week, industry groups warned that layoffs were likely in the coming days if the strike continued to drag on. Politicians in Quebec and Ontario are also saying that their provinces were having to ration propane.

The Teamsters say CN is purposely not moving propane to “manufacture” a crisis. While more than 3,000 conductors and yard workers are on strike, locomotive engineers and supervisors are still at work and “free to cross picket lines and continue to operate freight trains every day,” the union says.

“While CN is nowhere near operating at full capacity, we think enough trains are running to allow CN to supply Ontario and Québec with propane,” Isaak says. “We wonder if CN is choosing not to ship goods like propane in order to manufacture a crisis and force back-to-work legislation.”

Industry groups and politicians have called on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pass legislation forcing CN employees back to work. The Liberal government has not indicated whether or not it will call back parliament, but officials say they are watching the situation closely and hoping for a speedy resolution.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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