Wednesday, June 05, 2013

VIA Rail Canada strike looms

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Union members of Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) have approved tentative plans for strike against VIA Rail Canada, which could begin after midnight June 14, CAW officials said Tuesday, June 4, 2013.

CAW Tuesday gave a 72-hour strike notice to VIA Rail, as required by law. The negotiation deadline set by the union and VIA Rail is June. About 94% of union members at VIA approved the potential strike, the union said.

Union President Ken Lewenza said, "The high strike vote reflects the frustrations and insecurities our members feel at VIA. This is a direct result of a drop in federal funding and VIA's so-called 'modernization' plan which has seen routes cut, stations closed and de-staffed. This plan is not the path to modernizing Canada's passenger railway services."

CAW is VIA Rail's largest union, representing about 2,000 workers in customer service, on-board service, and maintenance.

For its part, VIA Rail in a statement said, "VIA Rail remains optimistic that an agreement will be reached between the parties. Parties have been in conciliation since April. They are currently in mediation. VIA Rail will continue to be fully functional and provide the same level of service, on-time departures and arrivals, on-board quality service and safety to its passengers, employees and the public as it normally does."