Toronto Star - Staff Reporter
GO Train commuters along the lakeshore line can expect
more short delays today - and for the rest of the week -
after 34 engineer jobs were eliminated Dec. 30.
CN, which supplies crews for GO Transit, said the delays
are being caused by engineers upset with the decision to
have to drive the locomotives without a partner.
GO Transit reported delays of 10 to 15 minutes on about
seven trips this morning, affecting as many as 7,000
About 14 GO Bus trips were also cancelled, but GO
Transit says that issue is separate. The system is
reportedly short about 30 drivers and it will take at
least another week before that number is hired.
GO Transit asked CN to eliminate 34 engineers as a
cost-saving move, and the union filed a grievance.
However, a federal arbitrator supported CN’s move and
approved the elimination of those jobs.
The 34 engineers will be reassigned in CN’s freight
CN supplies train crews to six of seven GO Transit
lines. The Milton line is crewed by CP and there were no
"We are doing this at the request of GO," CN spokesman
Mark Hallman said of the job cuts.
He blamed the delays, lasting anywhere from 10 to 15
minutes, on job action.
"It’s a bit of a protest," Hallman said.
He said CN has employed supervisors in the field to make
sure there are no further labour problems. He said
employees who violate the collective bargaining
agreement could be disciplined.
The engineering union denies such charges.
Joe Lucifora, local chairman of Teamsters Canada Rail
Conference for Toronto South, said he would not condone
"We are professional," he said, adding that the
engineers have two years to go on their contract and
ruled out any wildcat strike over the job losses.
Lucifora said the delays have been caused by tieups at
the dispatch office.
Engineers who have been bumped are required to phone the
dispatcher to request reassignment within the CN freight
“Everybody has to phone the crew office to make
intentions known about where the next job you’ll go to,”
union chairman Lucifora said.
“The crew office has been overwhelmed with calls. We’ve
had almost no luck in getting in touch with the crew
dispatchers to make our intentions known to go to the
Some employees were having trouble getting through, he
A man who answered the phone in the CN dispatch office
told a Toronto Star reporter that the lines have been
busy all day.
Hallman denied this, saying that the management and
communication systems at CN were not bogged down.
The engineers were eliminated only on the Lakeshore
line, which is the busiest corridor in the system.
Hallman said CN did a risk assessment and safety
analysis and decided there would be no safety concerns
as a result of the cutback. He also said Transport
Canada had no issues with the job losses.
Prior to this cutback, there were two locomotive
engineers, a conductor and an assistant conduct on the
Under the new arrangement, an assistant conductor will
move to the locomotive to act as "a second set of eyes"
on trains going east from Union Station only, Hallman
Lucifora argued that an assistant conductor is not
trained to operate a locomotive.
Eastbound trains are pulled by the locomotive while
westbound trains are pushed.
Westbound trains have needed only one engineer, the CN
Last week, unions representing CN conductors and
engineers lost a battle when a federal arbitrator in
Ottawa ruled that CN was within its rights in the
collective bargaining agreement to eliminate the 34
positions by the end of December.
Lucifora, the local chairman representing the engineers,
said a top-rated engineer earns about $70,000 in salary,
while a top-rated conductor would earn about $65,000 a
Based on a salary of $70,000, GO Transit would cut more
than $2 million a year in salary with the move.
GO Transit spokesperson Ed Shea was unavailable for
Lucifora, the chairman of the engineers union in
Toronto, said commuters would be fooled into thinking
the delays will last only this week.
Lucifora said two engineers are needed, especially at
the turnaround sites in Burlington and Oshawa, and
having one engineer will mean that delays will be