Rail strike disrupting production at plants

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CALGARY, Alta. — Despite assurance from CN business would continue as usual during a conductor strike, a number of manufacturers have decreased production as a result of the labour dispute.

NOVA Chemicals, an international chemical and plastics company, has called for Canadian government intervention to end the CN strike, which the company says is slowing the transportation of goods to and from its Canadian manufacturing facilities.

Rail service is essential to the Canadian economy and the strike is beginning to impact our customers and our business, stated Chris Pappas, COO of NOVA Chemicals. Since the two parties appear to be at an impasse, we believe it is time for the government to intervene on behalf of Canadian business.

As a result, NOVA Chemicals is implementing the contingency plans it developed in preparation for the strike to meet customer demand.

The company has reduced production at some of its Canadian manufacturing facilities as a precaution. If the strike is protracted and the company is required to substantially reduce production, the financial impact on NOVA Chemicals could be significant, noted company officials.

NOVA is not the only company being affected by the strike, as last week the Ford Motor Company of Canada closed the St. Thomas auto assembly plant as a depletion of rail service has made it difficult to obtain supplies.

CN management personnel have been performing the work of conductors and yard-service employees since Feb. 10, when about 2,800 workers represented by the United Transportation Union went on strike.

CN has applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to have the strike declared illegal due to insufficient notice and improper authorization. The CIRB is continuing with its hearing today and is expected to reach a decision soon.

— with files from the Toronto Star

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