MONTREAL, April 20 (Reuters) - Canada’s biggest rail union said there had been no progress in negotiations on Friday to reach a deal before a Saturday deadline to avoid strike at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.
A strike beginning on April 21 would be the union’s third in six years, as management and unionized workers grapple over issues such as schedules to reduce fatigue management, the union said.
It comes at a time when demand is soaring from potash and crude oil producers, among others, for already congested rail service at CP and its larger rival Canadian National Railway .
Chris Monette, spokesman for the union, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, said “negotiations have not progressed at all.” The union represents about 3,000 CP locomotive engineers and conductors, around a third of the company’s employees.
A second union representing about 360 railroad signal maintainers at Canada’s second-largest railroad also plans to walk off the job.
A CP spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the status of the talks. The company said on April 18 it would continue to bargain in good faith and remained committed to achieving a win-win solution for the company and the two unions.
Canadian commodity producers remain worried about the impact of a strike on shipments, but some analysts say the country’s federal government is likely to quickly legislate strikers back to work.
On Thursday, Canadian Labour Minister Patty Hajdu said she expects all parties to stay at the table until they get a deal.
Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, whose members include Cargill Inc and Richardson International, said grain producers rely on CP to deliver about 400,000 tonnes of grain a week.
Teck Resources the world’s second-biggest exporter of metallurgical coal used for making steel, is largely beholden to CP for transportation of coking coal to west coast ports since the company doesn’t have access to the railroad’s larger rival Canadian National Railway Co, a Scotiabank analyst wrote in a note to clients. (Reporting By Allison Lampert Editing by Susan Thomas)