Friday, March 18, 2022

Possible CP Rail disruption could boost volumes through Prince Rupert Port facilities

Trains along the CP Rail system could come to a stop as of Sunday
should no solution to a current labour dispute be found
(map of CP Rail routes from CP website)

A labour dispute that could come to a head this weekend may provide for a short term boost in shipments through a range of Port facilities in Prince Rupert.

CP Rail which does not serve the North Coast, but has extensive service to the Ports of the Lower mainland has issued a 72 hour lockout notice to its labour force.

“For the sake of our employees, our customers, the supply chain we serve and the Canadian economy that is trying to recover from multiple disruptions, we simply cannot prolong for weeks or months the uncertainty associated with a potential labor disruption. The world has never needed Canada’s resources and an efficient transportation system to deliver them more than it does today. Delaying resolution would only make things worse. We take this action with a view to bringing this uncertainty to an end.” -- Keith Creel, CP President and CEO

As part of their approach to the current situation, the Railway also posted what it calls a collective bargaining information  hub, providing their view of the dispute.

That move by the railway was in reply to a strike vote from the Teamsters Canada that had been delivered earlier in the week. 

With word of the lockout, union executives noted the were not surprised of the development.

“It was well known that CP was going to force a work stoppage and lockout our members. They have done just that. At the bargaining table, CP continues to dismiss our members’ demands and are unwilling to negotiate the issues they have created. We remain committed to reaching an acceptable agreement that addresses our members issues. Our members are fully engaged and will be ready in the event CP carries out the notice.” -- Dave Fulton, spokesperson for TCRC

The last update on the negotiations between CP Rail and the union representing most of their 3,000 employees had noted that there are still 26 outstanding issues on the bargaining table.

The deadline for the lockout notice is March 20th. 

Should the railway shut down come Sunday, that could see a shift in the supply chain for the short term to the north and the Port of Prince Rupert which is serviced by CN Rail. 

That could result in a choice for shippers to route their grain shipments, container landings and other bulk shipments through the north until the CP labour dispute is settled.

On Wednesday, Seamus O'Regan, the Minister of Labour issued a statement making note of the current situation between the two parties in the dispute.

click to enlarge

Chances are that if the CP workers are off the job by the end of the weekend, it won't be for long, while the Federal government has noted of its belief in the collective bargaining process, some past history indicates that they won't wait too long before putting forward back to work legislation citing the impact on the nation's transportation system.

We will keep up on the developments in the transportation sector and update the notes as the week ahead moves forward through our CN Rail archive and that of the Port.

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