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CP conductors, engineers authorize strike

Teamsters could strike April 21 at earliest

CP locomotive
(Dave Bedard photo)

Montreal | Reuters — Canadian Pacific Railway conductors and locomotive engineers on Friday voted to authorize a strike action that could have the 3,000 workers walk off the job as early as April 21, Teamsters Canada said in a statement.

The workers, whose collective agreement expired late last year, are asking for more predictable schedules to combat crew fatigue, among other demands, a Teamsters spokesman said by telephone.

The union also said in the statement that it opposes cuts and concessions requested by CP, because the company is reporting higher profits and strong fundamentals.

A spokesman for CP, Canada’s second-largest railroad, could not be immediately reached for comment.

“We have come to a point where Teamsters are prepared to go on strike for the third time in six years to obtain a fair and reasonable contract renewal,” Doug Finnson, president of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, said in the statement.

CP and the union have clashed in recent years, when the railroad’s former CEO, the late Hunter Harrison, cut costs at the Calgary-based company to improve efficiency. Current CEO Keith Creel met with the union last year, striking a more conciliatory tone.

The labour unrest comes at a time of tighter rail capacity in Canada, with CP and rival Canadian National Railway facing strong demand for grain shipments and other commodities.

The union, which reached a tentative deal for its CN engineer members on March 22, said a ratification vote is underway that would guarantee “labour peace for the foreseeable future.”

— Allison Lampert is a Reuters correspondent covering the Canadian transportation sector from Montreal.

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