Published: July 22nd 2009
Source: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference
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Teamsters Canada Rail Conference issues 72 hour strike notice at VIA Rail Inc.
Montreal – VIA Locomotive Engineers and Yardmasters have voted 91.2 per cent in favour of a strike, which could begin as early as July 24.
The locomotive engineers and yardmasters at VIA Rail Canada have been without a collective agreement since Dec. 31, 2006, with little progress being made at the negotiating table since the previous agreement expired.
The parties are currently in the midst of a 21-day cooling-off and continue to negotiate with the assistance of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services. Teamsters Canada Rail Conference served 72 hours strike notice at noon July 21, 2009 and barring significant movements at the negotiating table, a national rail strike is scheduled to commence at 12:00 EST July 24, 2009.
“Our members would prefer to resolve this through collective bargaining but we are increasingly frustrated by VIA Rail’s tactics,” said Dan Shewchuk, President of Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, also noting it is unfortunate that VIA Rail would wish to prompt a strike that would cause chaos for the tens of thousands of commuters who rely on VIA Rail service in the busy Montreal-Toronto-Windsor corridor.
Some of the outstanding issues are linked to VIA’s implementation of an antiquated crew utilization procedure designed for freight service which creates uncertainty as to when a locomotive engineer will be required for work’ said Shewchuk. He also acknowledged that wages and benefits remain a major concern but the requests are not outside of the norm in the industry. Discussions have not yet been productive on many of the issues put on the negotiating table but we remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached prior to the strike deadline.
Two and half years have passed since negotiations began and VIA’s tactics have left the Teamsters very little choice but to issue a strike notice.
The 350 locomotive engineers and yardmaster employed by VIA Rail Inc. are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).
CBC's Cameron MacIntosh reports: Via Rail faces Friday strike deadline (Runs: 2:23)
VIA strike could spark layoffs - Sun Media