July 24, 2009 – 1:30 PM EST

Montreal – Bargaining talks broke down early this morning and without a response from Via Rail to their latest offer, locomotive engineers and yardmasters have been forced to take strike action. The locomotive engineers and yardmasters at VIA Rail Canada have been without a collective agreement since Dec. 31, 2006.  

Although some progress was made during the week on a number of issues Via has refused to address several core issues such as two consecutively scheduled days off per week, an appropriate training program to keep locomotive engineers current with Federally mandated rules and changes in equipment technology, qualification standards for locomotive engineers, providing transportation from the away from home terminal and issues related to a new type of train operation. The aspect of wages remained outstanding but the parties were very close to having this resolved on the basis of overall agreement.

“We are disappointed a number of issues remain unresolved.” said TCRC President Dan Shewchuk.  “Our bargaining committee worked hard to explore solutions, not only for our issues, but for those issues brought to the table by Via Rail as well”. “I believe that both parties have worked very hard but I put the blame squarely on VIA’s shoulders for the difficulties we are about to experience.”

The 350 locomotive engineers and yardmaster employed by VIA Rail Inc. are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).

The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.

Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Communications, Teamsters Canada