BURNABY—The promised lockout of 126 CUPE members and eight COPE members working for Southern Railway (SRY) took effect at five a.m. today, with the company shutting the gates at work sites and hired security guards forcibly removing workers from SRY property.
The lockout affects several work places, the three main rail sites being New Westminster Trapp Yard, Huntingdon in Abbotsford and Annacis Island in Delta. Managers are now in charge of operating the trains for a service area that stretches from Vancouver to Chilliwack.
“We have a number of safety concerns with regard to managers who may appear to be qualified on paper now running trains despite, in many cases, having little experience actually running a train,” said CUPE 7000 President Bill Magri.
“Even those who have done so certainly have not put in the time, on a regular weekly basis, that our members have. So our primary concern is with public safety and maintaining the highest safety standards especially given the transport of dangerous goods.”
The lockout was preceded by a final offer vote that the membership rejected by 91 percent. Magri said that SRY tabled a full concessionary package and was not willing to address either health and safety issues around fatigue and overtime or wages and working conditions.
CUPE 7000 members working for SRY include conductors, engineers, brakemen, trackmen, locomotive repair and maintenance, and others who operate, maintain and service the company’s freight trains, as well as supervising the switching between lines.