Mr. Speaker, by its actions the government has telegraphed to Canadian businesses that they do not need to bargain in good faith with their unionized employees.
All businesses have to do is let time run out, leaving workers with no option but to withdraw services. Then, like a white knight, the government will ride to the rescue and force the workers back to work.
The Teamsters negotiators understand that the world economy has suffered and that the Canadian economy, while in a better position than most, is still fragile. Teamsters came to the bargaining table willing to work with Canadian Pacific in order to come to a fair and equitable contract, a contract that was fair for Canadian Pacific and its shareholders and fair for the men and women whose work ensures that Canadian Pacific earns the profits necessary to continue to pay its shareholders the highest premiums in 30 years.
Canadian Pacific has taken advantage of the government's willingness to play white knight. Its negotiators refused to negotiate with the union. Its position on all issues has been, “This is what we want; take it or leave it. The government will legislate you back to work.”
Canadian Pacific was counting on the government to step in. The government's willingness to introduce back-to-work legislation has become the elephant at the negotiating table. Management can make unreasonable demands, say no to reasonable negotiation proposals and bargain in bad faith. There is no incentive for the company to negotiate.
The government must let corporate Canada know that it will not solve all its labour problems. The government must let corporate Canada know that trampling on workers in the name of corporate greed will not lead to back-to-work legislation. The government must tell corporate Canada, “It is up to you to negotiate a fair and equitable collective agreement with your employees, not the government.”
When it became clear that the only option for the union was the withdrawal of work, Teamsters indicated that in order to ensure that commuters in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver were not affected, it would continue to operate the commuter trains. They said their disagreement was not with the Canadians who were trying to get to work so that they could support their families, it was with Canadian Pacific.
Canadian Pacific's reaction to this offer was a flat “no”. Canadian Pacific was willing to make thousands of Canadian commuters suffer because it was not willing to bargain in good faith. Thankfully saner heads ruled, and Canadian Pacific finally agreed to allow the commuter trains to operate.
Many Canadians are probably asking themselves what the issues are and why the two sides cannot come to an agreement. I can answer the first one. The issues are pensions and fatigue management. I will have to leave the answer to the second question up to fair-minded Canadians to judge for themselves.
Canadian Pacific is asking the men and women who operate our trains and ensure that they run safely to take a 40% cut to their pensions. It is asking a 30-year-old employee with 10 years' service, who has another 25 years to work before getting a pension, to take a pension cut of $30,000 a year. Is that fair?
There are over 2,000 Canadian Pacific non-unionized management employees who are members of the CP Rail defined benefit pension plan. These non-unionized employees pay less money into the pension plan and receive a larger pension income than the unionized employees.
These employees are not being asked to take a 40% cut in their pensions. In fact, the non-unionized employees are scheduled to receive an increase at the end of this year. Is that fair?
The clawback of the unionized employees' pension benefits will put this money into the hands of Canadian Pacific. This is not money that Canadian Pacific earned; it is money that the employees earned. This windfall for Canadian Pacific will be paid out to shareholders that are now dominated by an American hedge fund investor. This is corporate greed at its very worst. This is not fair.
A tired worker is not a safe worker. We have learned this the hard way in both the trucking and air industries. I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport when the issue of fatigue management in the trucking industry was raised, reducing the 18-hour work day to a 13-hour work day.
I had the pleasure of getting in one of the Teamster trucks and going from Montreal to Ottawa to Toronto. It took us 18 hours. By the time we came back, the driver was exhausted. The same thing that applies to the people who are driving our trucks and to the pilots who are flying our planes should be applied to the people who are driving our locomotives.
That trip earned me a lifetime membership in Teamsters Canada. A good friend of ours who sits in this room, from Vancouver, is also a Teamster. Therefore, we have a union of two. Maybe we will start a local here.
While the 13-hour workday is not perfect, it is much better and safer than the 18-hour workday.
The House has spoken on the issue of worker fatigue and how it affects the safety of the individual workers and Canadians at large. We have defined hours of work in transport and in air.
Earlier this month, the Railway Safety Act received royal assent. The House spoke in one voice. We need to have defined hours of work in the rail industry. We need to have fatigue management incorporated into the rail industry.
The Teamsters' negotiating team proposed a fatigue and fitness clause that incorporated a successful pilot project, which was conducted in eastern Canada from 2007 to 2011. Canadian Pacific refused to consider this proposal.
Last Saturday, I had visited the Teamsters members at the McCowan rail yard when they were striking. I spoke with one of them. He told me that when he was called out to work, he was away from home for up to 53 hours, either working, or on call, or taking the legislated rest periods. Due to the maintenance on the tracks, a 6-hour trip can take up to 10 or 11 hours. He then has downtime. If he is lucky, he can get on the train to bring him back home to Toronto if it is ready. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. Therefore, he must wait. However, he must be ready on two hours' notice to get on the train to bring him back home, which is another 10- or 11-hour trip.
Canadian Pacific requires all of its employees to be fit and rested for duty at one time they are called to work. However, Canadian Pacific does not permit its workers to report that they are unable to work because of fatigue without threat of disciplinary action.
The workers are asking for two 48-hour periods of rest per month to help manage fatigue and to assist in the recovery of sleep deprivation. This proposal would allow employees to sleep in their own beds on two consecutive nights, twice a month. This is not unreasonable.
We should never have a strike on the issue of worker fatigue.
Canadian Pacific has thumbed its nose at the House and has said, “We don't care what you think about worker fatigue. We will do what we want”.
It is time for the government to tell Canadian Pacific that Parliament makes the rules, not CP.
I ask the Minister of Transport to ask his department officials to immediately begin the necessary fatigue science studies so that regulations can be prepared as soon as possible. It is time to ensure that the men and women who operate our trains have reasonable, defined hours of work.
Teamsters Canada has filed a bad faith bargaining complaint with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. It believes that Canadian Pacific has not bargained in good faith, but has relied on the government to legislate the workers back to work.
I believe that all fair-minded Canadians also believe that Canadian Pacific bargained in bad faith. That is why we are in the position we are today.