Sunday, July 26, 2009

VIA Strike Over - Issues Unresolved

At least so far as the public is concerned, "It's over":

www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090726/via_rail_090726/20090726?hub=TopStories

Having been a Labor Relations Officer on a US Class I (I left end of 1981 to enter practice as a Chartered Accountant - CPA down here), I'm of course most interested in the issues that remain unresolved. It would appear that VIA Locomotive Engineers have assigned runs, the issue appears that the men would like a little more time off AT HOME, as distinct from a hotel room that I presume up there also must meet standards of suitable lodging. But any hotel room, be it at the Dive Inn or the Four Seasons, has a way of getting old - fast.

The funny thing is that the media is reporting that VIA Engineers operate in unassigned service, such as (applicable terms down here) pool or "chain gang". Here is applicable brief passage to Canadian Business July 22 material:

"Some of the outstanding issues are linked to VIA's implementation of an antiquated crew utilization procedure designed for freight service which creates uncertainty as to when a locomotive engineer will be required for work'," said Shewchuk. He also acknowledged that wages and benefits remain a major concern but the requests are not outside of the norm in the industry".

Oh well, guess media up there and ours down here have one thing in common - they get it wrong. Of course, if Ellis were still an active journalist, as distinct from holding an administrative position within the Higher Education community in which journalistic skills are a necessity, that statement would be made with less credibility.

However, as I noted above, the carrier has not set forth publicly their position in this dispute; their only 'face' seems to be their PR gal (note I did not refer to her as 'Spin Lady") who has used her airtime (rightly I think) addressing passenger inconvenience issues.

But I do think that VIA Engineers in service anywhere outside the Quebec-Windsor Corridor must accept that VIA is a tri-weekly operation, and such will result in long layovers away from home. There is simply no way to avoid it, and it must further be accepted that operational efficiency, if even possible with tri-weekly frequency, results with establishing runs for as long as you can lawfully run. Sure, passenger service gives you predictability with your life, i.e. you know more or less when you are going to go, but it comes at the cost of the long layovers. Hopefully, any Engineer desiring to hire on (presume VIA recruits amongst Rules Qualified Engineers with CN) is aware of this unavoidable operating practice.

I sincerely hope that both parties will come together in good faith and work for a resolution! Good Luck to all concerned.

1 comment:

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