December 10, 2019

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Union releases recording of tired CN conductor as strike enters second week

MONTREAL - The union representing striking Canadian National Railway employees has released what it says is a recording between a supervisor and a conductor that demonstrates the dangerous working conditions at the company.

About 3,200 CN conductors, trainpersons and yard workers across the country walked off the job Nov. 19 over worries about long hours and fatigue.

The strike has stalled commodities and frustrated farmers who rely on rail-shipped propane to dry their grain and heat their barns and greenhouses.

In the recording from Oct. 19, 2018, a CN supervisor asks the conductor to move a train to a new location, where he and the engineer would be relieved by a new crew.

A statement Monday by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference says the conductor had notified the company hours earlier that they needed to be relieved and were resting near Pickering, Ont., after working more than 10 hours.

The supervisor later says, "When you take your call, you need to be set for 12 hours. Personal rest is not a regulatory or safety issue."

The union says the extra driving requested would have taken several hours, and the conductor said in the recording, "We will move this train in an unfit condition if that is your order."

The conductor was suspended for 14 days without pay for not moving the train.

Union president Francois Laporte says the recording illustrates "CN's blatant disregard for the health and safety of our members and the public."

"This is why we are on strike against CN," Laporte says in the union statement. "This happens every day across the rail industry, and CN regularly intimidates workers who raise the issue of fatigue with the threat of discipline."

CN Railway was not immediately available for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2019.

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