The union that represents CP Rail’s conductors and engineers delivered a strike notice to the company yesterday.
A strike can begin as early as this Sunday, Feb. 15.
The announcement prompted an exchange of news releases between the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents more than 3,000 conductors and engineers, and CP Rail.
TCRC president Doug Finnison said working conditions were “dysfunctional.”
“CP is completely unable to provide the majority of our members with any sort of accurate information on when they are required to work,” he said. “The CP negotiators have admitted their line up model is completely unpredictable and they are simply unable to fix it. Furthermore, CP is either unwilling or unable to comply with the collective agreements that require train crews stop operating and obtain rest after 10 continuous hours of work.”
CP Rail, for its part, said it has offered wage increases and increased benefits. “We also proposed a model that will improve the scheduling of regular time off and quality of life while enhancing our service and efficiency, but the union has not been interested,” said Peter Edwards, the vice-president of labour relations for CP Rail.
CP says managers will drive trains in the event of a strike, but that service will be reduced. The union has accused the company of displacing running trades employees from trains in order to train managers.
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference sent out ballots to its members requesting a strike mandate last month. The ballots were counted on Feb. 6, with 93 per cent voting in favour of a work stoppage.
The union last went on strike in May 2012. They were ordered back to work by the federal government.
Engineers and conductors in Revelstoke have complained of deteriorating working conditions over the past few years since Hunter Harrison took over as CEO of CP Rail. Recently, the company merged the Mountain and Shuswap divisions into one super-pool, which workers say makes it more difficult to predict when they will be called in to work.
The company also removed local rules for rest to 24 hours from 30 hours.