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CanadaEconomicsNewsRail

‘Every option’ on table to end CN strike, Canadian minister says

Agriculture Minister suggests government would consider back-to-work legislation or binding arbitration for striking Teamsters members as disruption brings 37% in drop in Canadian National revenue ton-miles and worsening supply-chain conditions across the country.

A Canadian federal minister signaled that the federal government would consider forcing an end to the nearly week-old strike by Canadian National (NYSE: CNI)  workers that has taken an increasingly grave toll on the country’s supply chain.

“Every option is always on the table, but for the time being, we hope we can get to an agreement,” Marie-Claude Bibeau said in Regina, Saskatchewan, Nov. 25. after a reporter asked if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government would consider pursuing binding arbitration or legislate the striking CN workers back to work.

Bibeau’s comments came as CN reported a 37% drop in revenue ton-miles and a 19% decline in carloads during the week of Nov. 17-23. While those declines are substantial, the numbers nonetheless suggest a herculean effort to squeeze as much freight through a network reportedly operating at 10% capacity.

Beyond CN’s metrics, the strike’s impact has intensified across industries that rely on the country’s largest rail network. The latest casualty was Nutrien, which announced it would close one of its largest potash mines for two weeks because of the disruption.

“It is extremely disappointing that in a year when the agricultural sector has been severely impacted by poor weather and trade disputes, the CN strike will add further hardship to the Canadian agriculture industry,” Nutrien President Chuck Magro said in a statement.

In Quebec, emergency shipments of propane have bought time as shortages to a vital heating fuel gripped the province.

Also on Nov. 25, protesting farmers descended on Trudeau’s Montreal’s office — a day after targeting CN. While Canadians have appeared split in their ire toward CN and the striking workers represented by the Teamsters, frustration toward Trudeau’s government has proved universal.

“We are pushing both parties,” Bibeau said.

Some 3,200 CN conductors, trainpersons and yard workers went on strike just after midnight Nov. 18. They have been without a contract since June, and their stated demands focus on safety issues and benefits.

CN, for its part, said it has offered proposals to address safety concerns but that Teamsters’ demands in negotiations extend beyond the union’s public statements.

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Nate Tabak, Canada Correspondent

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist who covers Canada for FreightWaves. He spent seven years as an investigative reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley.

7 Comments

  1. Farmers want action from Ottawa in week-long CN Rail strike

    Rail workers cite safety concerns as undelivered grain poses widespread problems
    Karen Pauls · CBC News · Posted: Nov 25, 2019 3:43 PM CT |

    Quote:
    “On Monday, the union released an Oct. 19 recording of a CN supervisor asking a conductor to move his train to a location near Pickering, Ont., where a relief team could take over.

    The conductor replies that he and the locomotive engineer are unfit to move a train, having been on duty too long.
    The union says the conductor was suspended for two weeks without pay after refusing to move the train through residential areas east of Toronto.

    “This recording illustrates CN’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of our members and the public,” Teamsters Canada president François Laporte said in a statement.

    “This is why we are on strike against CN. This happens every day across the rail industry, and CN regularly intimidates workers who raise the issue of fatigue with the threat of discipline.”

    End quote .

    I also took the liberty to post a recording via youtube on an earlier comment today titled :
    VIOLATION! CN 2865 at Sparrow Lake (04OCT2014)
    Fast forward it to 6 minutes 40 seconds and listen very carefully . CN forces employees into violating Federal laws !

    THE PUBLIC HAS PROOF that rail workers are UNFORTUNATELY asked to break the law by CN upper management .

    This also occurred and occurs in the trucking industry ! And that’s one reason why ELD’s were legislated .

    How ironic that these transport corporations ask that employees must not have a criminal record in order to obtain the “job” , and then turn around and ask transportation employees to break the law !!!!!

    What a disgrace !

    EXPOSE THESE HYPOCRITES !!! GO TEAMSTERS GO !!! YEAH !

    In my humble opinion ……………….

    1. I have a friend who works for C N he texted me to say in the past year and a halfany times told to brend the rules for trains carrying hazmat loads. Part of this is posturing by the union reps. The lack of concern by management to safety needs to be addressed now. C N wants to understaff trains of over 40 cars in length.

  2. NA , NA , NA , NA,,,, NA ! NA ! NA !,,,,, HEY ! HEY ! HEY ! , GOOD BYE !

    CURRENT CN MANAGEMENT HAS TO GO !

    OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW !

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    In my humble opinion …………..

  3. A little inspiration for all the rail workers and unions out there , right up close and personal ,

    On youtube : Shinedown Simple Man- in my house

    Quote :

    ” All that you need now is in your soul,
    And you can do this if you try ”

    YOU DESERVE TO BE SATISFIED ! If it were not for YOU our lives would be much more difficult !

    Thank you for your transportation services , they’re sincerely greatly appreciated ! And the least the public could do is to at least SUPPORT YOU AS A BIG THANK YOU !

    Glad to see you take a stand for what’s right ! Don’t give up !

    In my humble opinion ………….

  4. Re-quote from an answer of mine to a commenter under another Rail article on Freightwaves :

    Noble1
    says:
    11/25/2019 at 7:58 pm
    Let’s be very clear on where MANY “Farmers” currently stand regarding the CN mismanagement issue that pushed rail workers to strike , and the lack of customer care CN has chosen to neglect through this ordeal .

    Quote:
    “Many farmers say they are sympathetic to the working conditions of rail workers, but they’re also worried they won’t be able to get crops to market in a year when they had a disappointing harvest and continue to face trade disputes — notably China’s ban on Canadian canola.

    In Montreal, the UPA isn’t asking for special legislation to force the CN employees back to work, but it wants Trudeau and his government to “put pressure on CN” to prioritize the transportation of propane.”

    RE-QUOTE !
    “Many farmers say they are sympathetic to the working conditions of rail workers”
    “In Montreal, the UPA isn’t asking for special legislation to force the CN employees back to work”
    ” but it wants Trudeau and his government to “put pressure on CN” to prioritize the transportation of propane.”

    And that’s what I have been advocating all along ! PUT PRESSURE ON CN MANAGEMENT , not on the little guys/gals at the bottom who are unfortunately being abused by CN “management” !
    You can read the article I’m referring to titled : Farmers want action from Ottawa in week-long CN Rail strike

    Here is another quote on something a little more esoteric . Bare with me now .
    Quote:
    “There’s always much talk (and a fair amount of hype!) when Mercury turns retrograde, most of it pretty negative and doom laden. Mention of travel disruption, communication breakdown & misunderstandings abound.

    People roll their eyes and brace themselves for a few weeks of chaos and confusion as they anticipate the trickster aspect of Mercury messing with their lives.

    And yes, it is true that these happenings occur more readily during Mercury’s retrograde phase, but the essence of the trick played upon us is that they’re not negative events, but moments designed to stop us in our tracks and wake us up.”

    RE-QUOTE :
    “but moments designed to stop us in our tracks and wake us up.”(wink)

    Quote:
    “The time of Mercury retrograde is always a time of truth, even when communications seem disrupted and misunderstandings are rife, because misunderstandings themselves are part of the truth of being human.

    When Mercury is retrograde we’re given a chance to address them and correct the course of events, rather than sweeping them under the carpet, ready to trip us up another day.

    Indeed, whatever Mercury retrograde brings to us, the best reflection is always, ‘What truth does this reveal to me and why have I needed it revealed in this way at this time?’. The answers to these questions may be very enlightening indeed…”

    Quote:
    “Mercury retrograde shadow, or retro-shade, occurs when Mercury retraces its steps after appearing to move backwards in its orbit during the retrograde.

    And during this time, the effects of everything that happened during Mercury retrograde hits us hard.

    “One would think that the post-retrograde zone would be beneficial. But more often than not, it’s a time when communications and dramas are taken to the next level — when the effects of Mercury retrograde are felt and dealt with,”
    “This particular Mercury retro-shade is in Scorpio and lasts from November 20 to December 7.

    And as Mercury re-traces its steps, so will we. “During this time, we will be revisiting the story that began during the pre-retrograde shadow period on October 11 (which lasted until Mercury entered its proper retrograde zone on October 31),” Stardust tells Refinery29.

    “This is our third shot to revise the story. Choose the narrative and ending wisely. Keep receipts from holiday shopping, be mindful of travel plans, and avoid arguments with family. All of which may be hard, as secrets and scandals will be revealed. Be careful and mindful!”

    RE-QUOTE !

    “All of which may be hard, as secrets and scandals will be revealed. Be careful and mindful!”

    End quote .

    And once Mercury returns direct , THE “TRICKSTER” IS EXPOSED ! And “exposed” the trickster has been thus far !

    In my humble opinion ……………

  5. And therefore in conclusion to my response above , to the contrary of popular public opinion concerning the timing that the rail workers through the union chose to go on strike , it couldn’t have been better timed .

    The energies that currently surround us are on their side and favour them to make their case and reveal the truth in regards to their “trickster” publicly .

    And that is exactly what they have done and are doing . The wind is blowing in the rail workers back . As “above” ,so “below” (wink)

    Thus , they have public support due to the timing of the “truth” being exposed and rendering it easily understood .

    In my humble opinion …………..

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