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Teamsters Canada and Canadian Pacific blame one another for work stoppage at CP Rail

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) has announced that there is a "lockout" at Canadian Pacific Railway on 19 March after negotiations between TCRC Negotiating Committee and Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) have not been successful.

"A lockout is a work stoppage initiated by company management during a labour dispute. Unlike a strike, in which employees refuse to work, a lockout is initiated by the employer," said TCRC, which is a union that represents 125,000 Canadians, over 16,000 of those members work in the rail industry.

On the other side, Canadian Pacific said in its statement that while the company was still engaged in ongoing negotiations facilitated by federal mediators, TCRC withdrew its services and issued a news release misrepresenting the status of the talks.

It is important to note that on 16 March, Canadian Pacific Railway Limited issued a 72-hour notice to the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). This notice included its plan to lock-out employees at 00:01 a.m. ET on 20 March if the union leadership and the company are unable to come to a negotiated settlement.

"Shortly before the lockout was announced, the Teamsters Union expressed its desire to continue bargaining. Unfortunately, the employer chose to put the Canadian supply chain and tens of thousands of jobs at risk," said TCRC, while Keith Creel, CP President and chief executive officer, noted 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."

Creel added, "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."

Dave Fulton, TCRC spokesperson at the bargaining table, commented, "Canadian Pacific management must be taken to task for this situation. They set the deadline for a lockout to happen on 19 March, 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."

In final and binding arbitration, the parties agree to accept the arbitrator's decision as final, according to Teamsters who said they were willing to explore this type of arbitration, but were unable to reach an agreement with the employer.

"Wages and pensions remain major stumbling blocks. However, also at issue in these talks are working conditions that call into question the railways capacity to recruit and retain workforce members," added TCRC in its statement.

Prior to the midnight deadline, the TCRC Negotiating Committee issued a news release that completely misrepresented the truth, according to Canadian Pacific which pointed out that the release falsely claimed that CP had initiated a lockout.

"Contrary to the TCRC Negotiating Committee’s claim, the work stoppage was initiated by the TCRC. In reality, it was CP, with the Director General, Federal and Conciliation Services, that remained to wait at the table with the desire to continue bargaining," said CP, which described the situation as a "failure of the TCRC Negotiating Committee’s responsibility to negotiate in good faith."

CP noted it is executing a shutdown of its train operations across Canada and will work closely with customers to wind-down Canadian operations.

Antonis Karamalegkos
Managing Editor

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