Seed World

Rail Work Union Disaster Avoided with Operations Resuming Immediately

Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) has reached an agreement with the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) allowing normal operations to resume. This comes as a relief to many players in the industry, as halted work at CP Rail could have resulted in a devastating effect on the fertilizer supply chain, and therefore domestic and international food security.

On March 19, 3000 Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) union members halted the rail service. The union is comprised of engineers, conductors, trainpersons and yardpersons, and are essential to the railway. The temporary halt had the potential to leave farmers with a lack of supplies with spring planting in only four-to six-weeks in Canada.

“The decision to agree to final and binding arbitration is not taken lightly,” stated Dave Fulton, TCRC spokesperson at the bargaining table in the union’s statement this morning. “While arbitration is not the preferred method, we were able to negotiate terms and conditions that were in the best interest of our members. Our members will return to work at 12:00 (noon) local time today.”

“CP is pleased to have reached agreement with the TCRC Negotiating Committee to enter into binding arbitration and end this work stoppage,” CP President and CEO Keith Creel went on to say in CP Rail’s statement. “This agreement enables us to return to work effective noon Tuesday local time to resume our essential services for our customers and the North American supply chain.”

This past year the agriculture sector has already faced many challenges, including impacts from the war in Ukraine and below average crop yields in the 2021 growing season. It can take upwards of one month for rail services to bounce back. It would be nearly impossible to make up for the loss of crops last year without maximizing this year’s yields says Fertilizer Canada in a recent press release.

Canada is home of Saskatchewan, the world’s biggest potash producer and exporter. Potassium, a key component in potash, is used for fertilizer among other industrial applications including glass, ceramics and chemical dyes. Saskatchewan has exported more than 250 million tonnes of Canadian potash and is estimated to have over 100 billion tonnes of potassium chloride, a form of potash, in their recoverable reserves according to Canada West Foundation.

As such an important source in the potash industry, it was imperative that an agreement be reached between the two parties as quickly as possible.