A weekend strike at Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. could cause commuter chaos in Montreal, where trains on three of the city's commuter lines are operated by CP employees.
Montreal's Agence métropolitaine de transport said the shuttle buses it plans to run if trains halt will not be able to handle the 19,000 people who use the Candiac, Vaudreuil-Hudson and Saint-Jérôme routes each weekday. AMT is urging CP to use managers to keep the service running, but the railway said this will not happen.
"There's no way we're going to be able to put 700 buses on the road," said Fani St. Pierre, an AMT spokeswoman.
Three of AMT's six rail lines are owned by CP and staffed by 60 CP employees represented by the Teamsters union, which has given a strike notice on behalf of 3,100 locomotive engineers and conductors for midnight Saturday.
The union said mediated talks with CP in Montreal are stalled over rest periods and the use of cockpit recorders.
"We've talked about this for years with no success and our members feel it's time for us to move on and force CP to address the real issues," Teamsters spokesman Stéphane Lacroix said by phone. "We're not talking about wages or pensions, we're talking about fatigue management."
CP has said it will be able to keep some trains across its Canada-wide network running with managers at the controls. But companies that rely on Canada's second-biggest freight railway fear they will lose access to markets if a strike happens.
The federal government has been quick to block or end past strikes at railways and airlines, but has not said if it plans to do so again. "We remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached," said a statement issued by the office of Labour Minister Kellie Leitch.
The Unifor union that represents 1,800 of CP's mechanical workers said it will also strike at midnight on Saturday as it seeks an agreement after five months of talks.