After breaking off contract talks with Canadian National Rail last month, Unifor announced Sunday that members have voted in favour of a strike motion.
During the last 10 days, Unifor Local 100 and Unifor Council 4000 voted 98 per cent and 97 per cent, respectively, for a piece stoppage. The vote comes after Unifor’s five collective agreements with CN all expired Dec. 31.
Unifor national representative Bruce Snow told the Star that one in all the most important points of tension with this contract include pensions and CN Rail’s proposal to alter the age for early retirement, which is 55 with minimum 30 years of service, to 65 by the top of this 12 months.
Snow also said CN desires to introduce flex advantages which can be costly for members and “subpar wage increases as much as 3.5 per cent below federal inflation levels.”
“We want the corporate to withdraw what we view as concessions after which we’d be prepared to proceed trying to seek out common ground,” said Snow.
The 2 locals represent around 3,000 CN employees across clerical, mechanical, intermodal and facility management departments. Five bargaining sessions have taken place for the reason that parties opened negotiations October 2022.
“Although progress has been achieved in certain areas, the concessions proposed by the employer have to be withdrawn to succeed in an agreement,” said Cory Will, President of Unifor Local 100, in a February press release. Unifor decided to file for conciliation on Dec. 9, 2022, to “help move the method along.”
Bargaining updates posted to the CN website said the transport company tabled a comprehensive offer with the union on Feb. 14, including increases in net pay and advantages, in addition to “improved working conditions for all represented employees.”
CN said it doesn’t expect any labour motion to affect its operations, and “stays committed to achieving a negotiated settlement.”
“On this climate of massive profits CN is proposing a large number of concessions demonstrating just how out of touch they’re,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President, in a press release. “Our hard-working rail employees … is not going to accept an agreement that attacks our union and devalues them and their work.”
CN went through an eight-day strike by greater than 3,000 employees represented by Teamsters Canada in November 2019 that halted shipments and disrupted industries across the country.
If any job motion takes place, it will be “a whole withdrawal of all services” on March 21, Snow said. Unifor is scheduled to return to the bargaining table on March 13.
Unifor represents around 315,000 employees in almost 30 sectors, including media. Unionized Toronto Star employees are represented by Unifor.
With files from The Canadian Press