CP Rail prepping for potential strike on Tuesday night

Canadian Pacific Railway has started working toward winding down certain operations ahead of a potential strike starting Tuesday night.

The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and the IBEW System Council No. 11, whose members include nearly 3,400 conductors, engineers and signal maintainers, on Saturday filed notice of their intent to go on strike.

The earliest the work stoppage could begin is Tuesday at 10pm eastern time.

“CP has commenced its work stoppage contingency plan and will work closely with customers to ensure a smooth, efficient and safe wind down of operations,” said the railway in a statement on Saturday.

The TCRC and IBEW members originally served CP with strike notice in early April, but the federal labour minister intervened to force a vote on CP’s final offer. Voting ended on Friday, with the Teamsters union members voting 98.1 percent in favour of rejecting the offer, while IBEW members voted 97.2 percent against.

The unions accuse CP of “refusing to negotiate seriously.”

“CP is offering more of the same contract language that workers just voted to reject… The company clearly isn’t serious about reaching a negotiated settlement and delivering on their promise to do right by their employees,” said Doug Finnson, president of the TCRC, in a statement on Saturday.

In April, the railway said the TCRC had 108 outstanding demands, which would cost more than a quarter billion dollars over the next three years — an average increase of 24 percent per year. The IBEW had 85 outstanding issues, which equaled an additional cost of $27 million over three years, or an average increase of 25 percent per year, according to CP.

The union’s demands include issues around collective agreement duration, expenses, flexibility in hours of service, days off and work/life balance.

“CP’s final offer failed to address the issues. It also underestimated workers’ anger at the company’s abusive labour relations policy and management practices,” said the Teamsters union on Friday.

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