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Potential CP Rail strike

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Farm groups, manufacturers nervous as date approaches for potential CP Rail strike

Customers of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. are growing increasingly concerned about a labour dispute that the union has said could result in a potential rail strike as early as this week.

Earlier this month, the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference reported the results of a strike vote by Canadian Pacific employees.

According to the union, more than 96 per cent of members voted in favour of a work stoppage at the Calgary-based railway.

While neither CP Rail nor the Teamsters provided an update on the status of talks Monday, the union had previously indicated a strike could begin immediately after midnight on March 16.

The union has said wages, benefits and pensions are the main issues behind the potential job action.

But shippers who rely on rail transport say a strike, if it happens, would come at a time when many industries are already dealing with supply chain disruptions and related fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dennis Darby, president of the trade association Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said a recent survey of industry members showed 90 per cent have experienced problems with the supply chain over the last 12 months.

He said Canadian manufacturers have already lost out on an estimated $10.5 billion in sales because of transportation network disruptions and simply cannot afford another interruption.

“This latest potential disruption is just the latest example of the headwinds the sector has faced,” Darby said.

Fertilizer Canada — which represents manufacturers, wholesale and retail distributors of fertilizers — warned that a rail strike could result in fertilizer production facilities being forced to shut-in production, a situation that would be “crippling” during farmers’ crucial spring seeding season.

“The agriculture sector is already experiencing supply challenges compounded by the war in Ukraine and cannot withstand any more disruption to the supply chain,” said Fertilizer Canada president and chief executive Karen Proud in a news release.

Seventy-five per cent of the fertilizer used by Canadian farmers is shipped by rail, Proud added, and there is no other transportation method that currently has capacity or can be brought online in time to mitigate the impact of a strike.

Source: Global News

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