The union representing 2400 VIA Rail workers in negotiations with Canada's national passenger rail service provider issued a 72-hour strike notice late 07JUL. As a result, VIA Rail has issued a statement advising that it may be forced to suspend service "across its network" at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on Monday, 11JUL "should no agreement be reached by that time."
On behalf of VIA Rail employees working in its stations, on board its trains, in its maintenance centres, the VIA Customer Centre, and administrative offices, Unifor has been negotiating a new collective agreement with the train company.
Conciliators are working with VIA Rail and the union, who are continuing to negotiate Friday and through the weekend prior to the deadline that hits just after midnight Sunday. VIA "remains committed to holding these negotiations in good faith in an effort to reach a new agreement without any disruption of service before the deadline," the statement says.
"VIA Rail has made every effort to reach an agreement with UNIFOR. We continue to talk with the union and remain committed to negotiating a fair and reasonable contract," said Martin R Landry, President and Chief Executive Officer.
"Unfortunately, if no agreement is reached, VIA Rail will be forced to suspend all services for the duration of the strike and until normal operations can safely resume," he added.
"We recognize that this would be a major disruption for our passengers and for communities across the country. This potential work disruption comes at a time when we have resumed nearly all of our services. We deeply regret that it will negatively impact our efforts to support the recovery of Canada's tourism industry and cut off the essential role we play in transporting Canadians, and connecting many remote communities including indigenous communities."
VIA Rail advises affected passengers that they may change their reservation at no cost (service charges will be waived during any work stoppage) or may opt for a full refund of unused tickets.
The company says its web site, viarail.ca, will be updated regularly with news about service suspensions as a result of any strike, should it occur. Pax can also call 1-888-VIA-RAIL (842-7245) with individual inquiries about reservations or affected travel plans.