OTTAWA, Ontario – Canada’s House of Commons passed legislation that would end the strike at Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and the labor dispute between the rail company and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.
The Canadian Meat Council applauded the move, saying the strike hurt Canada’s reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality meat.
The Restoring Rail Service Act is headed for the Senate for debate. If passed, the bill would resume rail services at the CP and send all unresolved labor issues to arbitration. The strike began May 23. The collective agreements for the striking rail traffic controllers, locomotive engineers, conductors, trainspersons and yardmen expired Dec. 31, 2011.
"With no prospect of resolution in sight, the government acted to resume rail services for businesses, families and the economy," said Labor Minister Lisa Raitt. "The work stoppage at the Canadian Pacific Railway is affecting industries that contribute C$540 million weekly to the Canadian economy through their use of the railway. The strike will also put the jobs of thousands of Canadians at risk if it is prolonged."
Canada’s meat industry relies heavily on refrigerated rail transport to move product to ports such as Vancouver, where product is then exported to markets such as Japan and Korea.
“Our members are doing what they can to redirect products from Canadian Pacific Railway to Canadian National Railway. But, the balance needs to go on trucks- and that adds significant costs to our operations” said Scott Entz, Canadian Meat Council president. “The government’s effort to minimize the impact of labor disruptions for critical transportation services — particularly where perishable food commodities are involved — is greatly appreciated.”