Industry Calls for Legislated End to Rail Strike

There appears to be no end in sight for the strike at Canadian National Railway Co. (TSX;CNR) as industrial plants slow output of products cut off from their markets because of the railway stoppage.

While talks to end a strike by thousands of workers at Canada’s biggest railroad continue, the strike's impact is being felt far and wide across the country. As one of the world’s biggest exporters of farm products, Canada relies on CN and Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) to move crops, potash, coal and manufactured goods to its ports and over the border to the United States.

About 3,000 unionized workers, including conductors and yard workers, remain on the picket lines as ongoing talks with management have failed to resolve contract issues amid softening demand for freight service. The union’s concerns centre on fatigue, safety and ensuring that workers’ breaks are not reduced.

CN has reiterated its desire for an arbitrator to settle the dispute, a step that the union has rejected. Industries that rely on rail service have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to recall Parliament and pass legislation to end the strike. So far, the federal government has resisted calls for back-to-work legislation.