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Possible Canadian rail strike start delayed again

  • Market: Agriculture, Biofuels, Chemicals, Coal, Coking coal, Crude oil, Fertilizers, Freight, LPG, Metals, Oil products, Petrochemicals, Petroleum coke
  • 31/05/24

The start of a threatened strike by some union workers at Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) has been pushed back again as concerns about fuel and food supplies rise.

If it goes forward, the strike would begin sometime after 17 June at the earliest. The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), which is investigating federal government concerns, has postponed reply comments to 14 June from 31 May. Original comments were due by 21 May.

If CIRB ruled on 15 June, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) would have to provide three days' notice to CN and CPKC before workers could strike.

But a strike may still may not occur for another 60 days. If CIRB issues any orders, the parties would likely not be in a position for a strike or lockout to begin for two months, CPKC said on 16 May. TCRC members had authorized a strike to start as early as 22 May.

The railroads and union met with CIRB on Monday and discussed the comments filed by groups that could be affected by a strike. Canadian minister of labour Seamus O'Regan asked CIRB earlier this month to consider requiring some rail service to continue in the event of a strike to help avoid health and safety issues related to propane supply.

A number of concerns arising from the comments have been identified, with many focused on the impact to commercial and economic interests, CIRB said.

The theme of certain comments concerned delivery of supplies of propane and diesel to critical areas, including and remote communities in northern British Columbia. Transportation also is important to the province of Manitoba which has been using rail to deliver fuel because of a Winnipeg products pipeline.

Other comments focused on domestic and global food security. They noted some sectors are dependent on rail for transportation, such as fertilizer, potash and canola products, CIRB said.

The potential, immediate impact on the supply of water treatment materials for several municipalities also was highlighted.

Other commentators sought advance warning of strike, asking CIRB to provide notice of when a decision would be made or that there be an extension of the notice required before a strike or lockout.

Negotiations between the railroads and TCRC continue. CN and the union will meet next week from 4-6 June. CPKC declined to comment on talks but met most recently with TCRC leadership between 15-21 May.


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