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Canadian Pacific guilty of contempt of court around long work shifts

June 8, 2023
The Canadian Press

Photo: CP Rail

A Federal Court judge has found Canadian Pacific Kansas City Ltd. guilty of contempt of court for employees working excessively long hours.

Over a 10-month period in 2018 and 2019, the rail operator failed in 22 instances to comply with cease-and-desist orders laid out by an arbitrator, the ruling states.

The orders related to rest provisions under federal regulations and a pair of collective agreements for conductors and engineers that largely limit shifts to 10 or 12 hours, depending on the circumstances.

“CP’s own evidence was that ‘thousands of situations continue to occur annually where employees are not off within 10 hours,”’ Judge Ann Marie McDonald wrote, citing the labour arbitrator.


The railway made no argument that the situations qualified as exceptions spelled out in the collective agreement, the arbitrator said in March 2018.

Teamsters Canada president Francois Laporte said the company “needs to smarten up and stop putting profits over people before another tragedy occurs.”

“Canadian Pacific recklessly puts lives on the line in forcing so many train crews to work longer than allowed,” Laporte said in a statement Wednesday.

The Calgary-based company said it was disappointed with the ruling.

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and will be filing an appeal,” spokesman Patrick Waldron said in an email.

The June 6 decision comes less than two months after a Canadian Pacific freight train went off the tracks due to a washout in Maine that saw locomotives and four derailed lumber cars go up in flames.

The rail line is the same one where the fatal Lac-Megantic disaster unfolded in 2013. Canadian Pacific did not own the track at the time.

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