Accusations stem from escalating labour dispute
The Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (CP) has refuted the claim of labour union Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) that it was the railway company that initiated the work stoppage on Saturday.
According to CP in a news release, it was the TCRC that withdrew their services before the midnight deadline for the CP-issued lockout could take place.
This contrasts with TCRC's claim on Saturday that CP "chose to put the Canadian supply chain and tens of thousands of jobs at risk" by initiating the work stoppage amid the ongoing labour dispute between both sides.
"They set the deadline for a lockout to happen tonight, 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," said TCRC spokesperson Dave Fulton in a media release.
However, this was refuted by the CP in a later statement, saying that it was the TCRC that pulled out its services before the deadline for lockout arrived.
"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," said CP president and chief executive officer Keith Creel in a statement.
According to the railway company's statement, their side waited at the bargaining table while the TCRC Negotiating Committee issued a news release that "completely misrepresented the truth."
"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," the CP said.
The railway company further slammed the TCRC Negotiating Committee for failing to negotiate in good faith, adding that it will be "reviewing avenues to this egregious behaviour properly addressed."
Following the work stoppage, CP said it is carrying out a "safe and structured shutdown of its train operations across Canada and will work closely with customers to wind-down Canadian operations."
The work stoppage was a result of the ongoing labour dispute between CP and the TCRC over wages, benefits, and pensions.
According to CP, the negotiations have been on the table since September, and over the past week, talks have been made daily with federal mediators so both sides can have a new negotiated collective agreement.
"Despite those talks, our positions remain far apart," said CP in a statement.
The railway company said it made an offer that addressed "26 outstanding issues between the parties, including an offer to resolve the TCRC's key issues of wages, benefits and pensions through final and binding arbitration."
This offer, however, was rejected by TCRC, which the CP accused of demanding for additional work rule, including a more "onerous pension demand."
CP defended that accepting the pension demand would be "even more destabilising to the pension plan for all of CP's unionised employees, not just the 10% who are TCRC members."
"We are deeply disappointed that we find ourselves in this position," said Creel in a statement last week, when it issued the 72-hour lockout notice to TCRC-Train and Engine employees.
TCRC, however, responded to the statement saying that their members only want "respect and a fair contract," while being able to spend time with their families and rest.
"The railway wants to reserve its ability to force workers to take the federal government's mandated reset break at the away-from-home terminal instead of the home terminal. This would extend lay-overs, or the time spent en route, by a minimum of 32 hours," said TCRC's Fulton. "However, the intent of this provision was to have the reset break occur at the home terminal to achieve proper rest and work-life balance."
TCRC represents about 3,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, as well as train and yard workers across Canada.
According to CP, their TCRC locomotive engineer earned on average $135,442, while its top earner made $209,773. For TCRC conductor, trainperson, or yardperson, they earned an average of $107,872 and the top earner made $182,888.