Railfax January 18, 1999

Railfax January 18, 1999

CAW Complaint goes to Labour Board

Representatives of CN and the CAW will meet January 19 in Montreal to re-open discussions about CN’s 3,000 job cuts (1,075 of them affected CAW members). The meeting – the first of its kind since November – comes in the wake of a week of rapidly unfolding events.

First on January 8, Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw, over CN’s strenuous objections, gave the CAW the go-ahead to charge CN with bad-faith bargaining for having waited till after ratification last September to announce its massive layoffs.

On January 11, the Union notified the Canada Industrial Relations Board of the Minister’s consent and asked the Board to proceed with the complaint. Once the Board notifies CN officially of the complaint (which should normally have happened already), CN has five (5) days to file its reply. The next step is generally a hearing and then a decision, which could be expected fairly rapidly.

Then, on January 13, the whole issue was the subject of a conversation between CAW President Buzz Hargrove and CN President Paul Tellier. As a result of that discussion, the parties agreed to meet to see whether a resolve could be found without requiring Labour Board intervention. The CAW, however, has not withdrawn its complaint nor asked for a postponement – we are waiting to see whether CN is prepare to deal with the issues seriously and meet the concerns of our members.

The Union’s aims have been clear from the outset. CN’s silence at the bargaining table deprived us of the opportunity to negotiate about the layoffs while we still had the right to strike. When we sought to file demands in November, CN said it would "discuss" but not negotiate. It was this attitude which left the Union with no alternative but to file a bad-faith bargaining complaint and to demand restoration of its right to negotiate and strike if necessary. Should CN be prepared to negotiate now in good faith and meet our concerns, the Labour Board complaint would of course become unnecessary.

Representing the CAW at the January 19 meeting will be Rick Johnston, John Moore-Gough, Gary Fane and Abe Rosner. The CAW will reiterate the demands it sought to negotiate in November to alleviate the layoff burden, which include: 1) no employee to be forced out of a job or into relocation – departures to be voluntary only -- including employees with less than 8 years’ service; 2) measures to put an end to the exorbitant quantities of needless overtime (1 million hours on an annualized basis, equivalent to almost 600 full-time jobs); 3) stop transferring bargaining unit work to other CN employees and to outside contractors; 4) stop eliminating permanent jobs while keeping so-called "temporary" positions in place; 5) regain bargaining unit work now performed by non-scheduled employees; and other demands along these lines.

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