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Via Rail receives 72-hour strike notice from Unifor, risk of service suspension

Job action could commence Monday across Canada if deal cannot be reached with 2,400 workers
A Via Rail employee stands beside the entrance to a new train on display at the train station in Ottawa, Tuesday, November 30, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Via Rail says services across Canada could be suspended next week, after it received a 72-hour strike notice from the union representing approximately 2,400 of its employees.

In a notice on its website, Unifor said if an agreement cannot be reached by 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 11, maintenance workers, on-board service personnel, chefs, sales agents and customer service staff will be on the picket line.

It said both Unifor Council 4000 and Unifor Local 100 conducted strike votes from June 20 to July 1, and the results were 99.4 per cent in favour of strike action at Local 100 and 99.3 per cent in favour of strike action from Council 4000 members.

Unifor said a main issue is job security, and its members are frustrated the company “continues to push concessions and not work towards a fair and equitable collective agreement.”

In its own release, Via Rail said it remains committed to holding negotiations in good faith in an effort to reach a new agreement without any disruption of service before the deadline.

However, it warned that if the two sides cannot reach a deal, all services would be suspended for the duration of the strike and until normal operations can safely resume.

The company said the potential work disruption comes at a time when it has resumed nearly all of its services, and it recognized this would be a major disruption for passengers and for communities across the country.

Via Rail said affected passengers may change their reservation at no cost or request a full refund for unused tickets.

—The Canadian Press

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