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CN Rail Strike

As most parties are well aware of by this point, the Canadian National Railway received a strike notice from the Teamsters Canadian Rail Conference Conductors. As of 0001 hours 19 November, approximately 3,200 railway employees have been on strike. According to the Union, the impasse mostly involves safety and work load, whereas management is claiming that the issue is centered around compensation demands from the union.

Canadian National Railway services both the Port of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Already the disruption to rail service has had negative impacts on the fluidity of the Canadian supply chain with the potential for the strike to extend into a second week. We remind all parties that the Canadian Government is typically quick with their involvement to reach a solution, the last railway strike which involved Canadian Pacific Railway lasted 9 days in total. Canadian Pacific Railway continues to operate as normal, however, it is not uncommon for the 2 companies to share track usage so CP could experience some delays as well.

As of November 21, a federal mediator has been involved in ongoing discussions with both parties. On November 20, a new Liberal parliament and Minister of Labour was sworn in. Both the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Labour are both monitoring the situation and applying pressure for the quickest possible settlement. However, the Government is not considering back to work legislation at this time and instead is choosing to let the bargaining play out. Even if back to work legislation becomes a consideration, Parliament is not currently in session (expected back on December 5) and it would take some time.

We are aware that the majority of Canadian exporters and related associations are putting a great deal of pressure on Government to reconvene parliament and enact back to work legislation. But so far, there has been no positive response from the government.

On November 22, the Vancouver Grain Exchange voted in majority favor of the following motion –

“Pursuant to By-Law 10.01 of the Constitution and By-Laws of the Vancouver Grain Exchange, the Council of the Vancouver Grain Exchange, together with the council of the Western Grain Elevators Association, hereby confirms that an “Event of Delay” exists at the grain loading facilities on the West Coast of Canada due to a labour disruption between the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) and CN Rail. The event of Delay commenced at 0001 hrs ET on November 19, 2019.”

We will keep you closely advised of any and all updates on the situation going forward.