More than 3,000 locomotive engineers and conductors at Canadian Pacific Railway are on strike.
The workers, represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, walked off the job Tuesday evening (May 29).
Talks between TCRC negotiators and the railway company are ongoing, TCRC said in a news release issued late Tuesday.
“I can confirm that talks are ongoing, assisted by federal mediators, and we hope to have more information in the coming hours,” said TCRC’s director of public affairs Chris Monette.
“Teamsters are committed to working with federal mediators and reaching a negotiated settlement. The union is willing to remain at the bargaining table during the strike,” the union added.
Shippers that depend on CP to move their products are asking Ottawa to take decisive action to ensure that the impacts of the labour disruption are minimized.
“With recovery from the recent grain shipping backlog still ongoing, the loss of one of Canada’s two major railways is going to have a significant negatively impact on hard-working farm families on the Prairies,” said the Grain Growers of Canada (GGC).
“We … are calling on (Ottawa) … to move quickly and take whatever action is required to get grain moving again.”
GGC called the strike at CP “potentially disastrous,” for the Canadian agriculture sector.
Canada’s fertilizer industry issued a similar plea.
“Some fertilizer companies continue to experience unpredictable levels of service,” said Fertilizer Canada in a prepared statement.
“A strike will further aggravate the situation.”
“As the Canadian fertilizer industry exports to more than 75 countries, our members rely on an efficient transportation system in order to remain globally competitive,” added Garth Whyte, president and chief executive officer of Fertilizer Canada.
“We strongly urge the government to take whatever action is necessary to ensure minimal damage is done to the Canadian economy and especially Canadian trade industries.”
Prime minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the federal government won’t be rushed into introducing back-to-work legislation.
“Quite frankly, we have companies that have gotten used to the fact that in certain industries, the government in the past was very quick to legislate against unions,” he said Tuesday in Toronto.
“We are not going to do that.”
The Liberal government believes in collective bargaining but will take steps to encourage both sides to reach a settlement, he added.
CP also announced Tuesday that it has reached a tentative three-year labour agreement with signal maintainers represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
The tentative agreement will ensure that passenger operations at CP are not affected and that IBEW employees remain on the job until the results of a ratification vote are known.