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Canadian rail workers prepare for potential strike at CN and CPKC

Intensive talks are set to continue into May, with the rail workers' strike deadline looming on May 22.

Railroad Track Crossing Pixabay

The Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference (TCRC) has strongly signaled its readiness to strike, emphasizing that current negotiations with Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) must yield substantive results. The union's bargaining committees thanked members for a robust strike mandate vote, which they interpret as a mandate to not accept concessions and to press for an agreement addressing worker concerns.

As of April 30, following the end of the conciliation phase mandated by the Canada Labour Code, the parties entered a 21-day cooling-off period, misleadingly named as significant negotiations are expected. The only confirmed negotiation date is May 3 between CPKC and TCRC, with intensive talks anticipated as the strike deadline nears.

Negotiations will intensify from May 13 in Montreal with CN, and from May 17 with CPKC, assisted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services. In anticipation of a potential strike, TCRC is organizing resources, including picket signs and legal guidance, and appointing Strike Captains to manage potential scenarios.

The NDP, through Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach and Labour Critic Matthew Green, has voiced support for the rail workers, urging the government to ensure that CN and CPKC engage earnestly at the bargaining table. The NDP highlighted the worker and public safety stakes and criticized the railroads for undermining collective agreements.

Despite ongoing discussions, including recent meetings on April 29 and 30 with federal conciliators, CN expresses frustration over the lack of concessions from TCRC towards a modernized agreement that proposes hourly wages and better scheduling, among other benefits. CN remains cautious about reaching an agreement before the May 22 strike deadline, emphasizing the potential impacts on the Canadian and North American supply chains and the economy.

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