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Canadian Pacific track workers to strike Wednesday
Published: May 13, 2007
Source: Reuters
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The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees Division (TCRC MWED) announced today that they have been forced to serve 72 hour strike notice on CPRail.

The TCRC MWED represents approximately 3200 employees who inspect, maintain and build the track, bridges and structures on CPRail. Their current collective agreement expired on December 31, 2006. The parties have been bargaining since July, 2006.

The national strike is scheduled to begin at 11:59 pm (23:59) MST on Tuesday May 15, 2007.

William Brehl, President of the TCRC MWED said,

“This is a sad day for the company and for the country. The Union has done everything that it reasonably could to avoid a strike, but it takes both parties to want a negotiated settlement. Now the company has forced us to go on strike, which will be devastating to the Canadian economy.”

Wages, benefits, seniority, work rules, safety, quality of life and other issues have polarized the parties.

In light of the rash of train accidents and recent derailments, some involving dangerous commodities and loss of life, Brehl is worried for the public safety if CPRail thoughtlessly continues to try to run trains over track that has not been properly inspected or maintained.

“Everyday a trained and qualified TCRC MWED member finds a defect that has the potential for disaster. We fix or protect these defects to insure that the right-of- way is safe. All of us are extremely worried about unskilled, unqualified and inexperienced personnel out trying to perform these dangerous and necessary tasks.”

Part of the requirement necessary for a Track Inspection Qualification is one year minimum, working on the track itself. The TCRC MWED has over 1200 licensed and qualified track inspectors in their 3200 members at CPRail. The replacement workers will have around 150, who will come from the front line supervisor ranks. The rest of the replacement workers will be taken from management desk or sedentary jobs, who have never worked on the track previously.

“ We have always wanted a negotiated settlement. We have bargained in good faith and expected the company to do the same. We have been reasonable and have hit a brick wall. For example, we are asking for a 4% wage increase for 2007. The company is standing firm at 3%. The national average presently for wage increases on contracts settled in 2007, is at 3.4% and rising. CPRail is making huge, above average profits, yet they offer below average wage increases. And they want us to make massive concessions in seniority, work rules and our health and welfare benefits just to receive the sub standard wage increases that they put on the table.” states Brehl.

No further talks are scheduled, though the Union has been very clear that they would be more than willing to resume productive discussions.

For further information, please contact Bill Brehl at (519) 819 1530 or Louis Wilson at (613) 733 4456.
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