Canada: CN Rail Strike To Cost Canada’s Economy Billions, But Liberals Reluctant To Intervene - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada CN Rail Strike To Cost Canada’s Economy Billions, But Liberals Reluctant To Intervene

21:31  22 november  2019
21:31  22 november  2019 Source:   huffingtonpost.ca

More than 3,000 Canadian National Railway rail workers on strike, union says

  More than 3,000 Canadian National Railway rail workers on strike, union says MONTREAL — About 3,200 Canadian National Railway conductors, trainpersons and yard workers are on strike after the union and company failed to reach a deal by the midnight deadline. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing the employees, gave the required 72-hour strike notice on the weekend. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the union representing the employees, gave the required 72-hour strike notice on the weekend.

a group of people holding a sign: Striking CN rail workers are seen outside the Mclean Rail Yard in North Vancouver, B.C., Wed. Nov. 20, 2019. © Provided by Oath Inc. Striking CN rail workers are seen outside the Mclean Rail Yard in North Vancouver, B.C., Wed. Nov. 20, 2019.

MONTREAL ― Businesses and political leaders in resource-rich provinces are calling with increasingly loud voices for an end to the CN Rail strike, but Trudeau’s Liberals seems reluctant to intervene in contract negotiations.

Industry groups say the strike ― which entered its fourth day on Friday ― has particularly impacted farmers, the forestry industry and oil and gas, all of which rely heavily on rail shipments.

Striking workers are demanding an end to what they call dangerous work conditions and fatigue due to long shifts. They are also opposing a move by CN Rail to reduce prescription drug benefits.

Alberta government calls on feds to resume Parliament to address CN Rail strike

  Alberta government calls on feds to resume Parliament to address CN Rail strike Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step in and enact emergency back-to-work legislation for CN Rail. "Parliament is scheduled to return on Dec. 5. Unfortunately, even this short wait could result in serious damage not just to the Alberta economy, but to the Canadian economy as a whole," the minister said in a media release."CN Rail regularly ships in excess of 170,000 barrels of Western Canadian oil per day. Any disruption in shipments would have serious consequences for an economy that is already dealing with severe bottlenecks due to cancelled and delayed pipelines.

In a report issued Friday, TD Economics estimated that, if the strike lasts until Nov. 30, it will cost Canada’s economy between $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion, but if it drags out until Dec. 5 ― when Parliament resumes ― the cost will be between $2.3 billion and $3.1 billion.

That amounts to just a fraction of one per cent of Canada’s economic output, but given that the economy was already slowing down, this “doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for negative shocks,” TD economist Brian DePratto wrote in the report.

“An extended strike risks seeing a near flattening in economic activity to finish the year, and hit an already-challenged goods sector,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote.

But so far, those economic arguments aren’t finding purchase with Trudeau’s Liberals, who have jurisdiction over the federally-regulated railway sector.

Saskatchewan premier urges federal government to intervene in CN Rail strike

  Saskatchewan premier urges federal government to intervene in CN Rail strike Saskatchewan premier urges federal government to intervene in CN Rail strikeMoe says he has spoken to Transport Minister Marc Garneau and  Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland about the strike, which he says will jeopardize jobs in his province if it continues.

“For us it’s an appreciation of the collective bargaining process,″ said Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, who was named to the portfolio just a day earlier. She added that Ottawa’s chief mediator was at the negotiating table in Montreal.

The federal Liberals have used back-to-work legislation before, namely in 2018 to end a strike at Canada Post.

The Teamsters union ― which represents 3,200 conductors, trainpersons, and yard workers who have been out on strike since early Tuesday ― said Friday that “no substantive progress has been made” in talks.

One of the first impacts of the strike has been a propane shortage, with Quebec down to four days’ worth of propane as of Friday. Premier Francois Legault said the province had already begun rationing to ensure propane supplies reach critical places such as hospitals.

But the union claims Quebec’s propane shortage “appears to be largely manufactured″ by CN Rail amid rising pressure from industry and Prairie politicians.

Nova Scotia could face propane shortage as CN strike continues

  Nova Scotia could face propane shortage as CN strike continues Propane distributors in Nova Scotia are concerned about supplies in the province as the strike at the Canadian National Railway Co. is about to enter its fourth day. While some propane is trucked into Nova Scotia, the majority enters on the CN rail lines.While some propane is trucked into Nova Scotia, the majority enters on CN Rail lines.

“CN is far from operating at full capacity, but we believe there are enough trains going around to allow the company to supply propane to Ontario and Quebec,” said Lyndon Isaak, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, as quoted by CBC News.

“The question is whether CN refuses to transport propane to create a crisis and force a special back-to-work law.”

‘Devastating time’ for farmers

Canadian Federation of Agriculture president Mary Robinson said the strike comes at a “devastating time for farmers” following a delayed grain crop and early snows.

“Farmers do not receive payment for their products until they reach the port, and the rail strike makes this impossible. This will create huge cash flow problems for farmers, who require these payments to pay off their loans, invest in their operations and prepare for the new year.”

With pipeline projects in limbo, oil producers have become increasingly reliant on rail shipments, and the strike sent the price of Canadian crude ― already selling at a steep discount to global oil prices ― down by more than half a dollar in the first two days, to $18.25 a barrel, according to Bloomberg.

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A number of politicians including Saskatchewan Premier Scott More and some Alberta cabinet ministers have been prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to convene Parliament earlier than the scheduled date of Dec. 5 to pass back-to-work legislation, or at least to impose binding arbitration.

But if binding arbitration is to happen in time, “we’re talking hours now, not days,” Moe told reporters Thursday.

a group of people walking in the snow: Workers walk the picket line at Winnipeg's Symington Yards on Tues. Nov. 19, 2019. © Provided by Oath Inc. Workers walk the picket line at Winnipeg's Symington Yards on Tues. Nov. 19, 2019.

The Teamsters say they are fighting to end dangerous work conditions and fatigue.

“CN currently requires (union) members to operate trains alone from outside of the locomotive, hanging on to moving trains with one hand while operating a remotely controlled locomotive with the other,” the union said in a statement

“Railroaders are expected to do this in rain and in freezing temperatures, sometimes for distances of up to about 17 miles….

“The company also wants to make it more difficult to take time off and make employees work longer hours, in an attempt to get more work done with fewer people and to reduce staffing levels.”

― With files from The Canadian Press

This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada.

CN Rail and union reach tentative agreement after week-long strike .
Workers walked off the job on Nov. 19 over concerns about long hours, fatigue and "dangerous working conditions.""Normal operations at CN will resume tomorrow at 6 a.m. local time across Canada," according to a statement from Teamsters Rail Conference.

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