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Mining, agri-food sectors call for end to CN strike

Extended work stoppage harmful to industries that rely on rail

The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) said a prolonged strike by Canadian National Railway (CN) workers could have a serious downstream impact on mining operations that depend on railways to move products and supplies.

"A strike by CN workers will have a seriously harmful effect on the industry," said MAC president-CEO Pierre Gratton in a Nov. 19 news release.

"The shipment of fuel and other supplies to mine sites will be compromised as will the transport of mineral products."

Gratton said the mining industry is the biggest customer of Class One railways in Canada, accounting for 52.3 per cent in 2018 of all rail freight revenues generated annually and is the single largest shipper by volume.

Most of this production heads to international customers, representing 20 per cent of the total value of Canada’s exports in 2018.

"MAC members have advised that this strike will result in a severe reduction or elimination of railway capacity and will trigger the closure of mines with concurrent lay-offs of thousands of employees beginning in a matter of days,” said Gratton.

Gratton is calling on Ottawa to impose binding arbitration to resolve this dispute and consider it a required step in future disputes involving Class One railroads.

The Canadian fertilizer industry also demanded the federal government to step in and find a solution to get the trains moving again.

"We urge representatives of CN Rail and its union to come to the table to reach common ground," said Fertilizer Canada president Garth Whyte.

"The number one priority for the new federal cabinet is to find a quick resolution to this strike. Reliable rail service is critically important to our members and the Canadian farmers who are our customers. We must act quickly on any strike action to ensure the long-term sustainability of Canada's domestic and export markets."

Fertilizer Canada represents the manufacturers in Canada’s agri-food sector involving wholesale and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate, potash and sulphur fertilizers.