Trains across Canada came to a halt early on Sunday as Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) shut down operations and locked-out workers, and the union subsequently went on strike with picketing underway at various CP locations. The strike involves roughly 3,000 employees, represented by Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).
CP Rail workers voted in favor of a strike last month and were in a legal strike position as of March 16. Then on Wednesday night, CP set a 72-hour deadline for a deal to be reached before it would initiate a lockout if the union and company could not negotiate a settlement or agree to binding arbitration. On Saturday, the Teamsters said in a statement that the company had locked the workers out, and then they later issued another statement saying the workers were also on strike.
The company and union started negotiating a new contract last September. The two sides have not been able to resolve 26 outstanding issues, including wages, benefits, and pensions. Both parties disagree on which side caused the work stoppage but say they are still working with federal mediators. They are expected to keep working until they reach an agreement.
Provincial leaders have called on Prime Minister Trudeau to “take immediate and effective measures” to protect Canada’s supply chain. They have put pressure on the government to implement back-work legislation.
Canada depends heavily on rail to move commodities and manufactured goods to port, and any disruption hinders Canada’s freight capacity and the broader economy. The work stoppage comes at one of the worst times for the country already plagued with the ongoing effect of the pandemic, inflation, product shortages, rising fuel costs, and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Deringer will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated.