Laval, QC, June 7, 2023 – A federal judge has found Canadian Pacific
to be in contempt of court after the company forced train crews to
work excessively long hours in violation of a court order to abide
by the collective agreement and Transport Canada regulations.
The contempt motion was filed by the union representing rail workers, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). To read the ruling, click here.
Crew fatigue is a well-documented safety hazard in the rail industry. From the early 1990s until mid-2022, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has identified fatigue as a factor in at least 32 train derailments and other accidents. Rail workers are constantly on call and may work no longer than 12 hours under Transport Canada regulations, or 10 hours under certain provisions of the collective agreement.
The judge found “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the rail company “intentionally” overworked train crews in 22 incidents of the 38 presented. However, the judge also noted that “CP’s own evidence was that thousands of situations continue to occur annually” where train crews are not relieved from work in time.
“Canadian Pacific recklessly puts lives on the line in forcing so many train crews to work longer than allowed. They do this because they operate under the dangerous delusion that they are above the law, and that it’s OK to ignore the court orders on safety issues. This company needs to smarten up and stop putting profits over people before another tragedy occurs,” said the National President of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte.
“Despite everything they say, rail companies in this country just don’t take safety seriously enough. Another Lac Mégantic can happen at any moment, and Ottawa seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Canadians can count on the Teamsters to fight tooth and nail for rail safety. We will never back down when lives and communities are at stake,” said the President of the TCRC, Paul Boucher.
The penalties will be determined in a separate hearing.
With over 125,000 members, Teamsters Canada is the country’s largest transportation and supply chain union. It’s also the largest union in the federally regulated private sector. The organization represents workers at CP, CN, UPS, Purolator, countless trucking companies, and more. They are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 1.2 million workers in North America.
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