Canada Rejects Calls for Legislation to End Railway Strike

Date : 11/22/2019 @ 9:23PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Canadian National Railway Company (CNR)
Quote : 117.05  -0.21 (-0.18%) @ 9:20PM

Canada Rejects Calls for Legislation to End Railway Strike

Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR)
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By Paul Vieira 

OTTAWA -- Canada brushed off demands from business groups and regional political leaders to introduce legislation to end a labor dispute between Canadian National Railway Co. and over 3,000 unionized employees that is disrupting the economy.

Canada Transport Minister Marc Garneau said the government has concluded that the quickest way to resolve the strike, in its fourth day, is to continue collective bargaining rather than a law.

"This is a process we believe in," Mr. Garneau told reporters in Montreal on Friday. "We are making both sides very aware of the impact this is having on Canadians. They are not only inconvenienced, but in some cases pretty stressed."

Canadian National, the country's largest railroad operator, carries everything from Canada's crude-oil exports to automobiles headed to U.S. and Canadian cities, operates the country's biggest rail network, stretching from Vancouver to Halifax and from Chicago to New Orleans. The disruption has left a number of industries scrambling to adjust, particularly agriculture, chemicals, and energy producers.

Teamsters Canada, the union representing roughly 3,000 conductors, trainyard workers and others, said there was no progress to report in ongoing talks over its key issues in negotiations, key among them workplace and safety rules.

A Canadian National representative wasn't available for comment. Earlier this week, the Montreal company said it was seeking support from workers to have the government appoint an arbitrator to end an impasse. Canada's government has instead offered its chief mediator to help work through issues.

Mr. Garneau's comments came as pressure ramped up on the Liberal government to directly intervene and warnings emerged from economists about the negative impact a prolonged strike could have on the economy.

Quebec Premier François Legault called for intervention from Canadian officials, warning the province's farmers are facing hardship because of a shortage of propane. Farmers use propane to dry grain. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has complained the strike has added to woes facing his province's struggling energy sector.

Canada's main small-business lobby and a group representing fertilizer producers also pressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to force striking Canadian National workers to return to work.

TD Bank economist Brian DePratto said a strike carrying on until the end of this month could lead to an economic hit of up to 2.2 billion Canadian dollars ($1.65 billion). The impact would reach up to C$3 billion if the labor dispute extends into early December, he said.

Canada's legislature isn't scheduled to reconvene until Dec. 5. Parliament dissolved in September for the general election in October, when Mr. Trudeau's Liberal returned to power in a minority government.

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 22, 2019 16:08 ET (21:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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