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CP strike exposes Canada’s rail oligarchs and their Tory pals

Ritch Whyman

April 4, 2022

Just after midnight on March 20, 2022 train conductors, workers and yard employees walked off the job across the country shutting down CP Rail. Workers were forced to strike after the employer issued a public notice that it would be locking out the 3,000 members of the Teamster who were bargaining for a new contract. 

Within a few short days the employer would rescind its lock out notice and the Teamsters, faced with looming threats of back to work legislation, agreed to take outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

The workers were demanding wage increases and pension changes. Also at stake were serious attacks on workers time off with family and friends. CP Rail was trying to demand that Federally mandated breaks be taken not at employees’ home depots (the yards employees work out of). Such a change could see workers being forced to take mandated down time far from their homes.

CP rail oligarch Keith Creel went from praising employees for their work during COVID in late January, to deriding the union members as being greedy. This from a man whose compensation has skyrocketed 920% over the past 5 years to nearly $17 million per year.

As if this gross display of corporate greed wasn’t enough, CP Rail had just last year spent $27 Billion to purchase Kansas City Southern railroad.  Beyond the huge hikes for Creel, other top CP Rail executives have seen their salaries jump between 94% - 132%.

The workers on CP rail trains and yards covered by this agreement not only had to face the hypocrisy of their filthy rich bosses, but also attacks from both Liberal and Tory politicians.

Conservative Premiers like Scott Moe, Jason Kenny of Alberta and Heather Stefanson of Manitoba – fresh from their support and encouragement of the far right blockades of borders – rushed out a joint letter demanding the Trudeau Liberals enact back to work legislation to break the strike. 

The Liberals while professing to not want to immediately issue back to work legislation, have made it clear that they, like their Tory brethren, will intervene to support employers by breaking strikes. Most recently they broke the strike of Montreal Dockworkers in 2021 who were also fighting against excessive time away from families.

The looming threat of back to work legislation is something all working class activists need to address. It is unfortunate then that the federal NDP did not even bother to make a pretense of demanding the Trudeau liberals recognize workers right to strike when they signed their pact. We need to demand an end to back to work legislation.

Further it is clear that the rail bosses are more interested in their own enrichment than the safety and well-being of rail workers. It is time for the railways to be nationalized and taken out of the hands of pandemic profiteers like Keith Creel and his overpaid cabal of CEO’s. 


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