Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Photo: "Fluidity" Mike Murchison

Rail strike at least delayed by federal request

New supply chain quagmire looming?

Despite the fact that Canada’s two major railways voted to give the Teamsters Rail union a strike mandate effective May 22nd, Ottawa’s request that the IRB to examine safety implications means any possible strike would be at least delayed.

Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) members voted in favour of a strike mandate on May 1st.

In response, Ottawa has requested the Canada Industrial Relations Board (IRB) examine whether the potential strike could have safety implications. The documents provided to the Union regarding the minister’s referral state that “concerns have been raised that a disruption of the services provided by the employer could endanger the health or safety of the public.” There was also a letter authored by the Canadian Propane Association outlining their concerns, stressing the importance of a settlement between the parties to avoid any disruption to the propane supply.

“On the evening of Thursday, May 9, 2024 the TCRC was notified that the minister asked the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to look into the maintenance of activities agreements between the TCRC and CN and CPKC,” reads a notice posted to the Teamsters Rail website on May 11.

“What does this mean?…The board must now investigate the minister’s referral.

“During this process a strike/lockout cannot be initiated by any affected party. The membership’s right to withdraw services is frozen while the board investigates the matter fully and issues a determination. The employers cannot lock us out either. The time required for the process to complete is virtually impossible to predict. Legal counsel has cited examples in other industries to provide some insight, but our situation is unique. The TCRC will comply with the timeline provided from the board and begin preparing submissions.”