Job cuts at CP Rail threaten improved rail safety, CAW says

February 16, 2009, 2:54 PM EST

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At a time when Canada's rail industry has come under intense public scrutiny to protect safety Canadian Pacific Railway's recent decision to cut workers responsible for conducting safety inspections and repair work on rail cars at eight Ontario locations is absurd and must be stopped, said CAW Local 101 President Tom Murphy.

Murphy said the decision to layoff over sixty CP Rail Mechanical forces poses a significant threat to progress on improving rail safety.

"Mechanical maintenance jobs are one of the most important pieces needed to ensure rail transportation is operating as safely as possible," Murphy said. "The federal government must intervene in order to reverse these layoffs, which could put Canadian lives at risk."

The company's decision comes only weeks after a third major train derailment took place near Ottawa and at a time when the rail industry is under increased pressure to ensure strong public safety measures are in place to avoid future incidents.

Mechanical forces at CP Rail facilities in Welland, London, Lampton, Toronto, Vaughan, Alliston, Oshawa and Windsor (where the company plans to shut the rail yard entirely) will be impacted by these cuts. The company has cited the recent economic downturn as the main reason for these layoffs.

"There is no question that the economic slowdown is taking a toll on Canada's rail industry, but it is not acceptable to compromise safety," said Bob Chernecki, Assistant to CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "If the company doesn't live up to its responsibility to ensure the public is safe then it's up to our federal government to step in and show leadership."

This recent announcement of job cuts brings the national total of Mechanical forces on layoff to 300. Cuts at CP Rail's Winnipeg, Calgary, Montreal and B.C. facilities were announced in December.

CAW Local 101 represents 2,400 Mechanical forces at CP Rail in Canada.

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