Fifth business shutdown since 1993 interrupts CP operations

Mia Rabson, Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Federal Minister of Labor Seamus O’Regan said on Sunday, hours after the business shutdown began, Canadians expect the conflict in the Canadian Pacific to be resolved quickly.

Many organizations are already pressing the minister to intervene to end the conflict. But a spokesman for Mr O’Regan said the government continues to believe that the best way to resolve this conflict is a negotiated settlement.

“Negotiations always come with challenges, but you have to overcome them to get the deal you want. CP and CFTC continue their work today. Canadians are counting on a quick resolution,” he said on Twitter Sunday morning.

More than 3,000 Canadian Pacific employees – locomotive engineers, conductors, trainers and shipyards – represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) find themselves on the picket after unsuccessful final negotiations.

Perrin Beatty, Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, has called for special legislation to end the business shutdown.

“This business shutdown will have a negative impact on all Canadian businesses, large and small, that depend on rail for their supplies,” he said. This is wreaking havoc on Canadian supply chains at a time of great uncertainty. This would go beyond our borders and damage our reputation as trusted business partners globally.”

The House of Commons will resume on Monday after a two-week break. The federal government can introduce a bill as early as this week if it wants to.

Fertilizer Canada also called for “urgent action” from the federal government.

“Disruption of essential rail service during the crucial planting season will have devastating effects on farmers, the economy and food security both in Canada and abroad,” the organization wrote.

Strike or lockout?

Management and the union blame the other side for this business shutdown, which has hit a supply chain that has been severely disrupted in recent months.

Canadian Pacific (TSX:CP) (NYSE:CP) announced a 72-hour ultimatum on Wednesday. If there was no agreement at the end of this period, the company would lay off the employees.

A CP spokesperson, Patrick Waldron, said the employers’ party submitted a new proposal to the CFTC on Saturday in the presence of federal mediators.

“We didn’t get an answer,” he said.

He accused the union of starting to ask employees to leave their jobs before midnight. According to him, it was the CFTC that called for the strike, not the administration that implemented the lockout.

“Let’s be clear, the CFTC has called for a unilateral strike. CP did not lock out its employees,” he said.

Mr Waldron said the company wanted to continue negotiations but called for an end to industrial action. He added that CP supports any government intervention. According to him, the union’s behavior is “honest and irresponsible”.

As of 12:03 a.m. Sunday morning, the CFTC issued a statement accusing the company of carrying out a lockout. He blamed CP management for putting the Canadian supply chain and tens of thousands of jobs at risk.

“After a pandemic, the boom in prices for foodstuffs and products, the war in Ukraine adds a layer of insecurity among the rail carrier, Canadians, especially those connected to the rail network,” may we read?

A second proclamation a few hours later declared a lockout and a strike.

“We are very disappointed with the way things are going,” said Dave Fulton, spokesperson for the CFTC at the bargaining table at the initial release. Canadian Pacific management should take full responsibility for the situation. […] Also (the employer) changed the rules of the game at the last minute to discuss the terms of a final and binding arbitration. »

Waldron said Canadian Pacific is safely suspending service across the country.

Management and the union have been meeting since September. Salaries and pension funds are among the most controversial issues. The union also wants to resolve the issue of where employees should spend their mandatory rest periods.

This is the fifth business stoppage in Canadian Pacific since 1993. During the past nine negotiations, the two sides have applied to federal conciliators eight times.