CN and CPKC rail strike likely delayed

CN and CPKC rail strike likely delayed
May 13, 2024

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board to intervene

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A potential strike between unionized employees at CN Rail and CPKC likely won’t happen on its original date.

Earlier this month, almost 10,000 employees represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference votes to move forward with a strike with May 22 set as the earliest date one could start.

But Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan has stepped in, likely delaying any strike.

On May 9, the minister announced on social media that he asked the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to “look into maintenance of activities agreements” between the union and workers.

Under the Canada Labour Code, the minister can ask the CIRB to investigate and decide which activities need to continue if a strike or lockout occurs. During that process, parties are banned from striking or locking employees out.

This means any work stoppage or strike on May 22 is unlikely.

“It is unlikely a decision will come down by May 22,” Jean-Daniel Tariff, a CIRB spokesperson, said in an email, the Financial Post reported. “Written submissions alone will likely take longer.”

The minister’s decision to get the CIRB involved came after receiving a letter from the Canadian Propane Association that cited fuel, propane, food and water treatment materials needed in remote locations, the Financial Post says.

The Canadian ag sector is watching this situation closely.

Farmers rely on rail transportation for input delivery and for crop exports.

“I have to admit, we’re extremely worried right now,” Andre Harpe, chair of Grain Growers of Canada, told Global News. “We rely on the rail to bring a lot of the fertilizers that we use closer to the farm. So, this could have a devastating effect on our bottom line.”

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