Calgary, AB: With today’s announcement that CN train conductors and railyard coordinators have gone on strike, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers call upon the federal government to take all steps necessary for an immediate return to work.
“When farmer’s grain doesn’t move to market, farmers don’t get paid. After this year’s difficult harvest, the last thing we need is a work stoppage that halts the movement of grain on the CN lines,” said Gunter Jochum, President.
Farmers are dependent upon the duopoly rail system in Canada. When CN and/or CP rail goes on strike, we don’t have an alternate transportation option. Grain farmers need the rail lines to maintain their shipping capacity in order to remain competitive globally.
When the rail lines fail to meet the ongoing capacity needs for grain movement, the government should entertain private options that minimizes the chance of this type of action happening in the future.
Further reducing rail capacity through the mothballing of equipment makes it harder to ramp up after a shut down like this or a serious weather event. The current situation mirrors the 2016 events that caused the huge grain backlog in 2017. No one wants a repeat of this scenario.
Increased inter-switching and joint running rights are seen as a mechanism to increase the competitive options including the movement of grain south, avoiding the strike actions that regularly plague the west coast.
“The federal government needs to be very clear with CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference – the Canadian economy cannot afford any further slowdowns or disruptions. Work out an agreement or the federal government will impose a settlement,” closed Jochum.
About the Wheat Growers:
Founded in 1970, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is a voluntary farmer-run advocacy organization dedicated to developing public policy solutions that strengthen the profitability and sustainability of farming, and the agricultural industry as a whole. For more information, please visit wheatgrowers.ca.