The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Wednesday that the contract negotiations between the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CP Rail) and the teamsters has stalled, leading to a vote by the teamsters to issue a 72 hour strike notice.
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, representing about 3,000 CP Rail engineers and conductors, along with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)which represents 360 signal maintainers, make up more than a quarter of CP Rail’s workforce. The unions are seeking a variety of changes including predictable schedules to combat fatigue.
Reuters reported that on April 13, CP Rail said it was working with the unions to come to an agreement, adding that meeting the demands of Teamsters will result in a 24 percent rise in payroll costs and IBEW’s demands will cost it 25 percent more in payroll costs over the next three years.
Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday that CP Rail CEO Keith Creel said “CP cannot be put in a position where we are held hostage. We can’t take a position that’s going to destroy our long-term ability to be on solid financial footing. If it means that we have to experience short-term pain to avoid that long-term damage, then that’s my fiduciary responsibility to all stakeholders and we’re going to uphold that.”
These negotiations come on the heels of CP Rail’s disappointing first quarter earnings as they struggle with high demand, severe winter service interruptions, rising fuel costs, and a change to the pension compensations.
Absent a negotiated settlement, the unions say their workers will walk out at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday.
The Canadian government says it is watching the situation closely and remains hopeful the bargaining process will result in a solution.
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