MONTREAL, Jan. 31, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Conveyors, shipyard workers and flight attendants employed by the Canadian National Way (CN) voted 91.3% in favor of ratifying a new three-year collective agreement. The more than 3,000 employees are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC). During the negotiations, the company tried to remove the collective agreement from its rest provisions while increasing the workload of the workers. The union prevented it. „Ottawa routinely violated the right of railway workers to strike. But this government has remained calm and focused on helping the parties reach an agreement and it has worked,“ Laporte said. Other non-security related changes to the agreement include an 8% industry pay increase during the 3-year agreement (2.5%/2.5%/3%), retroactive to July 23, 2019. Workers will also receive a taxable ratification bonus of $1,000. The health and wellness plan has also seen a number of improvements.
In order to continue to deter the company from breaching the remaining provisions of the collective agreement, workers receive additional compensation under the new agreement if they are forced to work 30 and 60 minutes after rest, including train attendants and railway stations. The agreement defines positions as the beginning and end in the employee`s locker establishment or other agreed location, in order to determine when workers have paid time. Previously, the company counted commutes among staff lockers as duty time, which significantly reduced the time available to sleep. Trips to the locker system can sometimes take hours and federal work/rest rules only prescribe 6-8 hours of downtime between shifts. CN does not recognize calm as a regulatory or safety issue. When exhausted workers ask to be unloaded according to the 10-hour limit set by the collective agreement, the company has previously told workers to „do the work now and file a complaint later“ if they were unhappy. Under the new agreement, the company will waive the „Work now grieve-later“ policy if tired employees try to reserve calm and be relieved, meaning they would not be forced to continue working. The new treaty focuses on safety, particularly with regard to crew fatigue and working hours. The deal was reached after an 8-day strike last November. The new collective agreement expires on July 22, 2022.
Teamsters would like to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau once again for respecting workers` right to strike. The union also wants to recognize Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). They played an important role in the parties reaching an agreement. „We didn`t get everything we wanted, but we still came to a fair deal that keeps trains running while improving rail safety. This is good news for our members, the company and all Canadians,“ said Teamsters Canada National President François Laporte. The company has accepted a number of changes regarding occupational safety. Improvements to the calm and fatigue provisions are of critical interest. „We have been able to get CN to adapt some of its practices in the interest of safety. But the central problem of fatigue in the railway industry can only be solved through government regulation,“ added TCRC Chairman Lyndon Isaak.