National | Media Release

National Farmers Union supports safe working conditions for railway workers

(Saskatoon) — The National Farmers Union (NFU) calls upon CN Rail to get back to the bargaining table and negotiate an agreement in good faith that will ensure railway workers have safe working conditions. As farmers, we rely on rail transportation to carry our products to export markets. To move our grain, conductors, trainpersons and yard workers should not have to put their lives and health in danger.

Furthermore, in spite of the strike, CN still has enough locomotive engineers on the job whose contracts have been settled, along with out of scope supervisors, to operate trains needed to deliver propane supplies to Ontario and Quebec farmers who need it to dry their harvested crops. The decision not to transport propane is a choice made by CN. We reject the company’s efforts to use farmers’ hardships as a pressure tactic to avoid bargaining in good faith.

Nine CN Rail workers have been killed on the job in the last two years. This is unacceptable. CN’s cost cutting measures are padding shareholders’ pockets at the expense of workers lives and health.

Nearly all of the grain CN hauls is covered by the Maximum Revenue Entitlement (MRE), a regulation that guarantees the railways make a profit on every bushel hauled. The MRE can only be adjusted upwards – so any efficiency gains are captured by shareholders, and never result in reduced freight rates to farmers. In 2019, CN had its most profitable quarter ever – with nearly $4 billion in revenue — nine-percent higher than the same three months in 2019. This amounts to over $1 billion per month. There is no excuse for CN denying workers the right to a safe workplace.

In solidarity with Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, the NFU urges CN Railway to immediately return to the bargaining table and work out a fair deal. We want our grain to move – and we need it to move safely!

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