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
"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
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