Update on Possible CN and CPKC Strike

Trade Update • June 17, 2024

Workers in Chinese Factory w/ Barbed Wire (Photo Courtesy of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region)

he union representing more than 9,000 CN and CPKC railway workers is organizing a second strike vote, as the current strike mandate is set to expire on June 30th.

Job Action Previously Paused

Workers were in a position to strike in late May; however, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan referred the dispute to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB), putting a pause on any job action by the union or railways until the CIRB has issued a decision on the safety impacts of a strike.

In response to the Ministerial referral, the TCRC proposed that the bargaining timelines of both CPKC and CN be staggered by two weeks to allow for further negotiation and potential staggered work stoppages.

Anticipated Mid-July Strike

While it remains unclear how long it will take for the CIRB to issue a decision, based on precedent, it is unlikely the parties will be in a position to initiate a legal strike or lockout before mid-July or later. In any event, a legal strike or lockout cannot occur until at least 72 hours after the CIRB renders a decision.


“Our customers, employees, and stakeholders want predictability and certainty restored. Our supply chains have been through so much disruption in recent years and are now having to plan for a possible railway work stoppage that could come at an unknown time and on very short notice. This represents a major challenge for Canada’s supply chains, which is causing avoidable damage to Canada’s international trade reputation. CPKC has requested the CIRB order that a strike or lockout cannot occur until 30 days after the date on which the CIRB issues its decision to allow stakeholders to plan for any potential work stoppage.”

For questions or concerns about if your products are affected please contact us.


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