Capitalists Declare CN Workers on Illegal Strike

By: WC O'Casey, February 13, 2007
UTU Web Site

Bloated with $2.1 billion in profits from last year’s unpaid labour time of Canadian National Railroad workers, CN has declared that the strike by United Transportation Union members is illegal. UTU workers are pressing for increases in pay, longer work breaks and better work conditions and greater safety for its members. This translates into retaining the workers “current lifestyle”. The workers are fighting to stop daily, abuse, harassment and intimidation by CN company officials.

The strike has set in motion contradictions within the UTU International and the Canadian Union, exposed a greedy investor class living off of CN workers and lays bare the necessity to nationalize the rail and inter-modal system in Canada. The UTU International leadership has denied strike authority stating that it is “violation” of the UTU constitution.

Opportunistic, CN is using the desertion by the UTU International leadership in standing in solidarity with the Canadian members, as a pretext to seek back to work legislation with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board, pit workers against farmers and break the Canadian Union. Canadian Members of UTU are united in the efforts of the Canadian Union to confront the rail monopoly and protect their incomes, safety and health. 2086 Canadian UTU members voted 96.9% in favour of strike action and are determined to continue the strike even without strike pay from the international.

UTU International Abandons CN Workers
TU International President, Paul Thompson, has abandoned Canadian members by refusing strike pay in favour of siding with the Canadian rail monopoly by declaring that the strike, ratified by the overwhelming majority of Canadian UTU members and legal under the Canadian Labour Code, is illegal under the UTU Constitution.

In a crassly worded message to General Chairpersons Rex Beatty (GO-105), Bryan Boechler (GO-129), Sylvia Leblanc (GO-759), and Raymond LeBel (GO-121), Thompson said, “Rather than having the assistance of the largest railroad union in North America - numbering some 125,000 active and retired members - and the substantial resources of the International on their side, our brothers and sisters in Canada have been put in a position of having to fend for themselves.”

Thompson, in a letter sent to Betty, Boechler, LeBlanc and LeBel, said that he has “no idea as to the issues in the strike” while at the same time is “fully aware of the Canadian law requiring a vote of the membership regarding a strike”, stated, “That is not a requirement under the UTU Constitution.” In other words US union constitutions supersede Canadian law.

Rail Monopoly CN Attacks Workers
CN laments on their web site that, “the United Transportation Union (UTU) demanded excessive wage increases during negotiations that broke off Feb. 9, 2007”. CN has stated that 25% of the UTU members on strike receive an average annual salary of $90,000, while the remainder has an average salary of $75,000. UTU is seeking a 3-year contract with wage increases of 4.5%, 4.5% and 4% in each of the"