Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions urge federal government to take steps to keep grain moving
With a potential CP Rail strike looming, the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) and Alberta Barley are urging the federal government to take the necessary action to avoid disruptions in rail service, including consideration of back-to-work legislation in the event of a strike.
The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, which represents about 3,000 conductors, locomotive engineers and yard workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) representing 360 signals and communications employees,served a 72-hour strike notice on May 26, 2018, meaning that a strike could take place as soon as Tuesday, May 29.
The commissions expressed concern in a letter addressed to the Minster of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Honorable Patricia A. Hajdu that a labour disruption could erase the momentum achieved by last week’s passage of Bill C-49, The Transportation Modernization Act.
“Farmers in several areas of Western Canada are captive to one rail service provider,” said Kevin Bender, AWC Chair. “Not only would a CP strike cause significant cash flow issues for farmers who can only access a CP line, but it would also further delay the millions of tonnes of grain that are still backlogged in the system due to poor rail service this year.”
Both Alberta Barley and AWC have urged Minster Hajdu to lead the government by taking action to prevent further damage to Canada’s reputation as a reliable commodity provider. A week’s delay in shipping on CP lines would equate to roughly 350,000 to 400,000 tonnes of grain being stranded in western Canadian elevators.
“It’s especially imperative that the government put a stop to this labour dispute so farmers can get the job done and move our product to our global customers,” said Jason Lenz, Alberta Barley Chair. “Canada’s reputation relies on timely exports and potential delays due to service disruptions could seriously jeopardize the agri-food export economy.”
Since the majority of western Canadian grain is captive to one shipper, the commissions urge the federal government to consider measures that would prohibit labour disruptions, given that shippers and farmers have no alternative means to move their products.
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Alberta Wheat Commission and Alberta Barley