The federal government urged Canadian National Railway Co. and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference to continue negotiating as roughly 3,200 conductors, trainpersons and yard workers went on strike.
Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the government is concerned about the impact of a work stoppage on Canadians, but remains hopeful the two sides will reach an agreement.
The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline.
Union spokesman Christopher Monette says they are still in talks with CN in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement and ending the labour dispute as soon as possible.
“The Port of Prince Rupert is Canada’s third largest port, with over $50 billion in goods traded globally through its gateway each year. Minimizing the disruption of Canada’s trade is important; any interruption to rail service has a significant impact on operations at the Port of Prince Rupert and the vital supply chains that support the Canadian economy. We have confidence that all parties will reach an agreement soon,” commented the Prince Rupert Port Authority.
The union has said passenger rail services in the country’s three biggest cities would not be affected by the strike.
The workers, who have been without a contract since July 23, say they’re concerned about long hours, fatigue and what they consider dangerous working conditions.
The dispute comes as CN confirmed last week that it was cutting jobs across the railway as it deals with a weakening North American economy that has eroded demand.
The Canadian Press