CALGARY, AB: The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is urging the federal government to end the CP rail strike. In a letter yesterday to Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, the Wheat Growers called for the federal government to immediately introduce back-to-work legislation.
“Rail transportation is vitally important to the grain industry,” says Kevin Bender, President of the Wheat Growers. “Farmers and other Canadians face substantial financial losses whenever rail service is disrupted.”
The Wheat Growers reiterated our call for rail service in western Canada to be deemed an essential service. Prairie farmers have no viable alternatives to get their grain to offshore markets in the event of railway work stoppages.
“Rail transportation is an essential service on the prairies,” says Bender. “Companies will face expensive demurrage bills and customers will go elsewhere if our industry is not able to reliably meet sales commitments.”
The Wheat Growers also noted that the federal government’s recent efforts to promote increased exports through international trade agreements will be undermined if we continue to allow railway work stoppages to disrupt the flow of goods.
In its letter to Minister Raitt, the Wheat Growers called on the federal government to ensure farmer interests are taken into account in any arbitrated settlement. Costs of labour settlements are automatically passed on to prairie farmers through adjustments to the railway revenue cap. Farmers are already facing a 9.5% hike in rail freight rates this year, largely due to higher wages and pension benefits provided to railway employees.
“Measures need to be taken to bring these costs under control,” says Bender. “Allowing the railway unions to strike and extract even more from farmers is not the answer. A better solution would be to enact right-to-work legislation.”
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.
For More Information Contact:
Kevin Bender, President