Rail workers’ strike in Canada enters fifth day

The workers of Canadian National Railways are demanding higher salaries and safer working conditions. Fatigue among rail workers is mounting even as the management plans further lay-offs

November 23, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Over 3,000 workers of Canadian National Railways are on strike.

A strike by thousands of workers of Canadian National Railways (CN) is set to enter its fifth day on November 23, Saturday. The workers are demanding fair contracts and protesting dangerous working conditions and long shifts, which have led to high levels of fatigue. Around 3,000 workers, including conductors, train operators, and yard workers under the leadership of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) launched the strike after their negotiations for a new contract with the management collapsed.

World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) reported that just before the strike, CN Rail authorities had proposed 1,600 job cuts, which will worsen the staffing crisis at the highly profitable railway. Workers are regularly sent on 42-hour round trips with no more than two hours’ notice.

Several union sources and the striking workers said that they are more concerned about safety and work conditions rather than the salary. Workers said that the CN management is “making it harder” for its members to get needed rest by increasing work hours and reducing staffing levels. It was also reported that the Transportation Safety Board identified fatigue as a major safety problem in the industry in its annual report.

The strike has affected agriculture, fuel companies and the mining sector, among others. Pressure has been mounting on Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to intervene in the matter.

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