June 3, 2024 | Circular No. 11672

Dear Member,

Please find below an update on recent labour-related developments:

Rail (CN / CPKC)

Further to CL 11668, the Minister of Labour has asked the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to consider whether the movement of certain specific commodities should be designated as essential in the event of a labour disruption at CN and / or CPKC.  Late last week, the CIRB announced a two-week extension to the date by which the railways and the union must reply to stakeholder submissions on the referral, with the new deadline now set for June 14, 2024.    None of the parties can initiate a strike or lock-out until after the CIRB has issued a decision this matter, and although it is unclear how long this may take, a recent bulletin from CPKC suggests that a decision from the CIRB is not likely before mid-July or later.

As part of our advocacy efforts on the evolving rail situation, we sent the attached LETTER to the Ministers of Labour and Transport last Friday, with a view to bringing an ocean shipping perspective to the issue, while also conveying the broader supply chain and economic consequences of a labour disruption at the time.  We also sent a copy of the letter to the CIRB, as we believe it may add useful a perspective to the Board’s deliberations on the Minister’s essential services referral.

In addition to our own communications, we were also signatories to the attached MESSAGE from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which was sent to the government last week on behalf of Canada’s business community overall.


Further to CL 11665, 9,000 members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) who work at CBSA have voted in favor of a strike, if such action is deemed necessary by the union.  The earliest date on which a strike could occur is June 6.  As per the recommendations of the Public Interest Commission (PIC), the parties have now commenced mediation, with the first session taking place today.

Although 90 percent of CBSA’s front line officers are considered to be “essential” workers, a strike could nevertheless lead to a “work-to-rule” scenario that results in delays to the movement of goods and people.    We remain in close contact with CBSA on this issue, and they advise that they are actively working to plan for these situations, and have developed mitigation strategies to ensure the continuity of operations to the greatest extent possible.

Longshore (Port of Montreal)

According to the latest update provided by the Maritime Employers Association, the parties are still in mediation once a week, with dates scheduled up until June 14th for now.  The union has not yet undertaken a strike vote, nor is there a vote planned at this time.


We will continue to monitor all of the above over the coming weeks and revert with additional news as it becomes available.  In the meantime, members with questions on any of the foregoing should contact the undersigned.


Karen Kancens
Vice President