Thursday , October 1 2020

CN Rail cuts jobs because weakening the economy harms freight


Canada's national railway company has confirmed it is cutting jobs as freight volume and revenue continue to fall amid a weakening North American economy.

The company said in a statement that it would be "adjusting its resources to demand", which would place some workers on vacation and "reduce the number of management and union".

About 1,600 workers will be laid off, the Globe and Mail reported on Friday, and layoffs have already begun.

"CN would like to express its gratitude to the employees who leave the company and thank them for their service," the statement said Friday afternoon.

This comes after Teamsters Canada's rail conference said last month that its 3,000 members voted almost unanimously to go on strike, which could begin on November 19.

The workers have been without a contract since July 23.

CNN employs about 24,000 people through a rail network that covers Canada and parts of the United States.

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg last month, the chairman and CEO of the CN alluded to huge layoffs.

"At a time like this when the North American economy, at least everything but the consumer, is slowing down, it means we need to boost the capital program. We'll do it in 2020. And we also need to have less fleet and probably less staff, "said Ruijt.

The layoffs come as the company lowered its earnings outlook in the last quarter, citing a weaker economy and lower cargo volume.

Pedro Antunus, an economist at the Canadian Conference Board, said the issue was directly linked to a wider economic downturn.

"The problem is if we do not have the goods to send, we do not have the capacity to produce the goods to be shipped, here at the core of the transport sector, the CN, there is a decline in demand for our services." Antoine said.

In September, Canada National Rail's chief financial officer said the company's freight volume and revenue had been hurt by the global economy slipping, as well as the US-China trade war.

The layoffs are proof of how Canadian jobs depend on the strength of international markets, according to James Moore, a former industry minister under the conservative government of Stephen Harper.

"One in five Canadian jobs depends directly on trade. And we have a problem with market access collapse with the rest of the world, with the United States, "Moore said.

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