November 26, 2019
The Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) is very pleased to see the conditional agreement between Canadian National Railway (CN) and Teamsters Canada to renew the collective agreement for over 3,000 conductors, trainpersons and yard workers.
CIAC believes CN and Teamsters Canada came to the correct decision while under tremendous pressure from all stakeholders to reach an agreement and applauds that decision.
“While we are very happy to see the two sides come to a tentative agreement, some difficult days remain ahead and it will take a few weeks before service for our members is fully restored,” said Bob Masterson, President and CEO of CIAC.
“CN is expected to place priority on critical goods such as home and vehicle fuels and water treatment chemicals, for example. Other facilities and industries could be waiting some time before they see full cars leave their facility sites and empty cars return.”
Mr. Masterson pointed out that some facilities will likely need to slow or suspend operations until that occurs, hopefully, without having to furlough workers.
Many of CIAC members are captive to rail – there are no viable alternatives for shipments. This can be because they have service with only one rail shipper, the volume of product or the type of products they ship. Larger companies can ship and receive approximately 80 rail cars per day.
“After three straight years of rail service disruption, it is time to take stock of lessons learned. The major railways, CN and Canadian Pacific Railway are too important to the nation’s economy and safety. It is time they are deemed essential public services so that future such disruptions can be minimized,” Mr. Masterson said.
Chemicals account for nearly 14 per cent of all Canadian rail traffic, with $63 million-worth of industrial chemical products relying on Canada’s rail network to get to their destinations every single day. The impacts of any rail delays or work stoppages are immediate, severe, and long-lasting for CIAC member-companies. The economic impact of a work stoppages averages $1 million per day, per facility.