Canadian Pacific Railway said it will have to lay off up 3,400 workers if the union doesn’t end a strike that has crippled the railroad’s Canadian freight network since Wednesday.
The threat to lay off unionized employees not affiliated with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference steps up pressure on the 4,800 striking members to accept a contract reducing pension plans. The average annual CP pension for TCR employees is $73,000, according to The Globe and Mail.
“CP is seeking pension provisions comparable to those provided to employees represented by the Teamsters at other Canadian railways,” CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said. “The union has agreed to these provisions at the other railways - we are simply seeking same to bring CP's legacy pension costs into line to remain competitive into the future."
TCRC President Rex Beatty said corporate management has seen their benefits increase, while worker pension benefits have eroded. “CP management doesn’t seem to be bothered by this flagrant inequality,” Beatty added. “But they shouldn’t underestimate our members. This is an important issue and we’re going to see this fight through to the end.”
The strike has delayed the shipment of tens of thousands of carloads of products ranging from grain to automobiles, and ports, including Port Metro Vancouver, are concerned there will be terminal delays if the strike continues.
The Canadian government plans to legislate an end to the strike if it’s not settled by Monday.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Labour Congress have criticized the Canadian government for interfering in the collective bargain process.
The fight highlights how the Canadian government has been pulled into fights with unions and major transportation companies, including Air Canada and Canada Post.