Wheat Growers Relieved to See Damaging CP Strike Avoided
CALGARY, AB: The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association is relieved that a lengthy CP rail strike has been averted and that labour and management have instead agreed to arbitration.
“A work stoppage would have severe repercussions for the grain industry,” says Jim Wickett, Chair of the Wheat Growers. “Farmers would have faced a sharp and immediate decrease in grain prices if the strike had been allowed to continue.”
The Wheat Growers were calling on the federal government to impose back-to-work legislation in order to keep the trains moving and grain flowing to market. The Ag Transport Coalition places the current backlog in grain shipments at over 18,000 rail cars. Any further hiccups in grain movement this year would risk seeing a return to the large grain price discounts that farmers faced in the previous crop year due to extremely poor rail service.
The Wheat Growers maintain that rail shipping of grain and other commodities should be deemed an essential service so that the Canadian economy is not crippled by strikes or lockouts.
“Our economy is dependent on rail service,” says Wickett. “As we’ve seen before, a work stoppage or slowdown of any kind can severely impact farmers and other Canadian businesses that rely on rail.”
While supporting the decision to go to arbitration, the Wheat Growers will be calling on the arbitrator to take into account the impact of any labour settlements on freight rates paid by grain farmers. Under the Canada Transportation Act, any increase in railway labour costs are directly reflected in freight rates paid by prairie grain farmers.
“The cost of labour settlements directly impacts our grain freight rates,” says Wickett. “Any arbitrated settlement should take into account the cost burden imposed on farmers and other rail users.”
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.