Montreal, December 13, 2019 – Over the past several weeks, supervisors at Canadian National Railway (CN) have been telling workers that the company plans on relocating its rail traffic control centre in Montreal to Edmonton. Over 100 rail traffic controller (RTC) positions in Montreal are at risk.
The company has already begun transferring twenty RTC positions to Edmonton. The workers in question had just been transferred to Montreal from Toronto this year.
“CN is moving families across the country like goods on a train. Some of these families had just found schools and daycares for their children in Montreal. You can’t play with people’s lives like that,” said the president of Teamsters Canada, François Laporte.
Almost all rail traffic controllers, including CN’s approximately 200 rail traffic controllers in Canada, are represented by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC).
“Uprooting families, some for the second time this year, likely means many RTCs will be unwilling to make the move. Leaving their communities, relatives, language and culture behind may not be an option for many of them,” explained the president of the TCRC, Lyndon Isaak. “CN will end up losing experienced staff and their knowledge of the rail network, which could lead to dangerous situations for railroaders, track maintenance crews and the general public.”
Rail traffic controllers are to trains what air traffic controllers are to planes. They coordinate train movements across a given territory and protect personnel working on the tracks.
CN has three rail traffic control centres across the country: one in Montreal, one in Edmonton, and one in Toronto which the company is in the process of closing. The rail traffic control centres in Edmonton and Montreal control the majority on rail traffic in western and eastern Canada respectively.
Teamsters Canada represents close to 125,000 workers across the country, including over 16,000 workers in the rail industry. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.5 million members in North America.