Premier petitioning federal government to make rail workers essential

Premier Scott Moe has called on the federal government to classify rail workers as an essential service and ensure that back-to-work legislation is passed if the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) strikes.

Moe made the call to action at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) annual convention with a petition signed by SARM delegates to ensure that rail services were not disrupted.

“This is an essential service. We just cannot have another disruption with respect to any of the rail services that we receive here in the province; it’s just too vital of service for not only the Saskatchewan economy but for Saskatchewan communities and people.”

He said the impact of a strike would be catastrophic.

“The supply chain is already stressed and experiencing performance issues because of compounding pressures like the pandemic, severe weather disruptions, and labour shortages,” he said. “Rail service is an integral part of the supply chain, and industries depend on reliable service in this already challenging economy.”

“Even a minor labour disruption will result in lost contracts, shutdowns, lost revenues, and reduced tax revenues to the Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan,” he continued.

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) members voted in favour of strike action on March 4. According to the TCRC website, the main issues in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations include wages, benefits and pensions.

A work stoppage would affect more than 3,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, train persons and yard persons at CP Railway.

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