CP Rail Shuts Down Operations As Labour Talks Stall

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has shutdown its operations after failing to reach a new labour agreement with its unionized employees.

CP Rail entered a work stoppage on Sunday (March 20) after the company and the union’s leadership were unable to negotiate a settlement or agree to binding arbitration, Canada’s Labor Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement posted online.

“The work stoppage has begun, but CP and Teamsters are still at the table with federal mediators,” O’Regan said. “Parties are working through the night. We are monitoring the situation closely and expect the parties to keep working until they reach an agreement.”

About 3,000 of CP Rail’s locomotive engineers and conductors voted earlier this month in favor of going on strike if a new collective agreement isn’t reached. The union is pushing for improved wages, benefits, and pensions, and has said it’s willing to remain at the bargaining table beyond the March 20 deadline.

The disruption at CP Rail threatens to further upset supply chains and exacerbate volatility in fertilizer markets at a time when farmers are already having trouble getting key nutrients for crops for spring plantings.

Crop-nutrient prices have skyrocketed, fueled by a global shortfall and worries that potential sanctions on Russia could disrupt global trade. Canada, along with Russia and Belarus, is a major supplier of the world’s potash, a mined material used in fertilizers.

CP Rail is the primary rail transportation provider for the delivery of Saskatchewan potash to overseas markets, according to the provincial government.

The leaders of Canada’s three prairie provinces called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Friday (March 18) to ensure that CP Rail resumes service as quickly as possible in the event of delayed rail service.