CP Rail work stoppage begins with both sides blaming the other

The work stoppage has begun for Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) as of early Sunday morning, with both the union and the railway accusing the other of initiating the halting of rail services.

As of early Sunday, both CP and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) were still at the table with federal mediators, according to federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr, who was in Calgary on Saturday to meet with both sides.

“Parties are working through the night. We are monitoring the situation closely and expect the parties to keep working until they reach an agreement,” he said, early Sunday.

The TCRC says there are still unresolved issues around wages, pensions, and working conditions.

While the union says CP initiated the lockout, its members are also on strike, picketing at various CP locations across the country.

The railway says the TCRC withdrew its services prior to the strike or lockout deadline and is “misrepresenting the status of the talks.”

“We are deeply disappointed that, in the final hours before a legal strike or lockout was to potentially occur, the TCRC Negotiating Committee failed to respond to the company’s latest offer that was presented to them by the federal mediators,” says CP president and CEO, Keith Creel, in a statement issued early Sunday. “Instead, the TCRC opted to withdraw their services before the deadline for a strike or lockout could legally take place. The TCRC is well aware of the damage this reckless action will cause to the Canadian supply chain.”

“We are very disappointed with this turn of events,” notes Dave Fulton, TCRC spokesperson. “Canadian Pacific management must be taken to task for this situation. They set the deadline for a lockout to happen tonight, when we were willing to pursue negotiations. Even more so, they then moved the goalpost when it came time to discuss the terms of final and binding arbitration.”

This marks the fourth consecutive round of collective bargaining between CP and the TCRC that has resulted in a work stoppage, going back to 2012, 2015, and 2018.

The federal government, including the labour and transport ministers, have so far been non-committal when asked about introducing back-to-work legislation or an order-in-council. The House of Commons is scheduled to resume sitting on Monday after a two-week break.

In April 2021, former Labour Minister Filomena Tassi introduced back-to-work legislation to end a one-day-old walkout by Montreal port workers, saying the toll on the Canadian economy was too high.

In addition to disrupting grain exports, there are major concerns about critical imports of feed supplies for livestock in Western Canada following last year’s drought, as well as delivery of fertilizer throughout North America ahead of the spring planting season.

Related: Major rail disruption begins as CP Rail triggers 72-hour lockout notice

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