CP Rail set to halt operations Sunday if labor negotiations fail

CP Rail has issued a 72-hour notice to the Teamsters Rail Conference that it plans to lock out some 3,000 employees early Sunday if the union and the company are unable to come to a negotiated settlement or agree to binding arbitration.

The Calgary-based railway said it tabled an offer Tuesday that was rejected  to address 26 outstanding issues, including the union’s key demands on wages, benefits and pensions through final and binding arbitration.

“For the sake of our employees, our customers, the supply chain we serve and the Canadian economy that is trying to recover from multiple disruptions, we simply cannot prolong for weeks or months the uncertainty associated with a potential labour disruption,” said CP Rail President and CEO Keith Creel.

“The world has never needed Canada’s resources and an efficient transportation system to deliver them more than it does today. Delaying resolution would only make things worse. We take this action with a view to bringing this uncertainty to an end,” Mr. Kreel said.

Teamsters Canada responded that the railway’s move was expected and noted its members had already voted 96.7% to authorize strike action.

Teamsters’ spokesman Dave Fulton said the union is committed to working with federal mediators and reaching a negotiated settlement. He added the union is willing to remain at the bargaining table until the March 20 lockout deadline and beyond.

“The government strongly encourages both parties to consider making the compromises necessary to reach a deal that is fair for workers and the employer,” said federal Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan.”

The potential major labor disruption has raised serious concerns among manufacturers and grain shippers at a time when supply chains remain strained due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo CP Rail)