Local CN Rail workers have been taking shifts to stand at the intersection of Hwy 16 and Kalum Street to voice their work concerns. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)

CN Rail workers strike in Terrace as part of national movement

Employees say long, unpredictable hours are a public safety concern

With the Canadian National Railway Co. strike taking place across the country, local workers are standing up as well to voice their concerns.

At the intersection of Hwy 16 and Kalum Street, approximately 35 CN Rail workers from the Terrace area have been taking shifts since Monday night to publicly express their concerns regarding long hours and fatigue leading to dangerous work conditions.

“It’s something that been a huge concern ever since the railway started and now it’s just becoming more and more of a concern,” says Matt Ridler, a conductor at CN Rail and the local chairman for Division 151 of the Teamsters Canada union. “It is absolutely one hundred percent for safety, the company wants us to work more and rest less.”

About 3,200 conductors, trainspersons and yard workers have walked off the job throughout Canada after negotiations on a new contract with CN Rail were unsuccessful this past week. Workers have been without a contract since July 23.

The dispute comes as CN Rail confirmed last week they were cutting jobs across the railway due to a weakening North American economy that has eroded demand.

For most workers, it’s difficult to make any plans or even relax during their personal lives as they’re generally on-call and their shifts tend to extend longer than expected, he says. Oftentimes, they don’t have enough hours between work to be properly rested for the next day which can become a huge safety concern for the public if someone falls asleep or is too tired to make a sound decision.

READ MORE: Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

Already, national news outlets have announced the strike has negatively impacted numerous industry groups both nationally and globally, including mining, produce and lumber. Ridler says there are many businesses in the area that will also feel the hurt if CN Rail doesn’t make amendments soon.

“It’s going to hurt the community because some of the local businesses depend on the stuff that we do, like we provide fuel and deliver it over the Northwest and that’s not getting done,” he explains. “Kalum Rock Quarry depends on us… and Rio Tinto doesn’t get any cars delivered.”

Passenger rail services have not been affected.

READ MORE: CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

The strikers take turns warming up at a fire by the train yard entrance nearby. Ridler says this is his first time taking part in a strike and was surprised how supportive the community has been these past few days.

“It’s actually amazing to see… people are honking and buying us coffee, just totally supportive and coming to talk to us about the cause about what’s been going on,” he says.

“They want the public to look at us and be like we’re greedy but that’s not it. We’re doing this for our safety and yours… It’s about quality of life and that to me is a lot more important than making money.”


 


natalia@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP bust five impaired drivers in one day in Terrace and Kitimat

Police were doing road checks as part of distracted driving, seatbelt enforcement campaign

Horgan makes campaign stop in Terrace and Kitimat

BC NDP leader met with local First Nations leaders, reiterated campaign promises

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

B.C.’s top doctor encourages Halloween costumes to include masks

Dr. Bonnie Henry will soon be releasing guidelines on how to safely trick-or-treat this Halloween

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Horgan frustrated as Transport Canada mandate for BC Ferry riders returns

Transport Canada reinstates rule that bans passengers from lower decks

Reincarnation, baby! Music-making B.C. couple celebrate ‘miracle’ pregnancy

‘I (said) to Adam, ‘I really think this is your brother reincarnated,’ Elise Estrada says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

Canadian health officials have said additional flu vaccines have been ordered to meet expected demand

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Most Read