Strike deadline for Via Rail workers extended again as Unifor continues negotiations

·2 min read

Unifor says it has yet again pushed back the deadline for a strike by Via Rail workers that could lead to the immediate suspension of passenger rail services across Canada.

Union spokesman Hamid Osman said earlier that "talks are progressing" when he said the deadline had been pushed back from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT on Monday.

Just before the clock struck 8, the union tweeted that talks had been extended again, and that the new strike deadline is Tuesday morning at 12 a.m. EDT.

Unifor initially issued a 72-hour strike notice to the national rail carrier on Friday, indicating 2,400 employees were prepared to walk off the job if a new contract could not be negotiated by 12:01 a.m. on Monday.

A strike would see maintenance workers, on-board service personnel, chefs, sales agents and customer service staff all hit the picket line and force Via to pause services across the country.

Unifor said job security was the main issue on the table during labour negotiations.

"Again we want to reinforce that we are committed to achieving an agreement and will continue to stay at the bargaining table so as long as talks continue to progress," said the tweet on Monday evening from Unifor that announced the latest extension to Tuesday morning.

Unifor's national secretary-treasurer said in Sunday's statement that its bargaining committees are "steadfast" in pursuing a deal that "respects and values" workers.

The union has since pushed back the deadline multiple times as talks continue with the rail operator.

Early Monday morning, Via Rail issued its own statement, saying it is committed to reaching a fair and reasonable agreement.

President and CEO Martin R Landry also noted that with the summer travel season here, the threat of a strike has created additional stress for the company's passengers and the communities it serves.

Via has also promised to allow its customers to make changes to their travel plans without service fees for any departures before July 31.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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