06 November 2016

[061116.EN.BIZ] CP Remains Focused on Finding 'Meaningful Solutions' to Engineer Fatigue

CANADIAN Pacific has expressed disappointment over the Transportation Safety Board's (TSB) comments on the topic of fatigue in the railway industry, which the North American railway operator says are "misguided" and "do little to enhance industry safety or improve the quality of life for conductors and engineers".

CP said in a statement that while it welcomes the focus on safety and looks forwards to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to improve rail safety, such discussions "must be fact based".

According to the railway operator, TSB chairwoman Kathy Fox's statement in a media conference on October 31 that six per cent of human-caused rail incidents may have involved fatigue is "not supported by facts", CP said.

"We would welcome the chance to meet with the chairwoman and Transport Canada to provide the context and detail necessary to dispel any misconceptions that continue to distort conversations over this crucial issue, and to lend our support in implementing important change," CP president and COO Keith Creel said in a company statement.

"It is well past time we moved the discussion of work, rest and time-off choices for locomotive engineers and conductors beyond emotional and deceptive rhetoric into the arena of fact. CP will, at any time, discuss the facts around work and rest with the TSB, Transport Canada and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) leadership and we are happy to do so in a public forum."

Contrary to claims by the TCRC and others, CP said it "has fought hard to put the issue of predictable scheduling and better work/life balance for locomotive engineers and conductors on the negotiation table, but has been thwarted at every turn."

The railway operator said it continues to take a leadership position in moving employees to a new, better scheduling model, including requesting regulatory change from Transport Canada to move away from the current and outdated regulation that allows engineers and conductors, at their discretion, to work up to 18 hours within a 24-hour period.

"This is an issue of choice: choice for our engineers and conductors; choice for their union leadership; and choice for Transport Canada, who can help bring about meaningful change for the benefit of public safety and hardworking railroaders," Mr Creel said.

"It is easy for both the TSB and TCRC to highlight problems, but we remain focussed on meaningful solutions and meaningful change," he said.

According to CP, during labour negotiations with the TCRC, the railway operator sought "predictable work and mandatory time-off schedules for train crews. The union, who demanded optional time-off schedules again at the individual employees?discretion, and then led employees to a strike in 2015, rejected this proposal. In 2015, 93 per cent of CP's train crews worked fewer than 10 hours; the majority worked fewer than eight hours," the company statement said.

It claimed that in 2015, 40 per cent of the time train crews elected not to take the maximum time off available to them between trips.

"CP has also been a vocal proponent of on-board voice and video technology, which can help identify and address behaviours that indicate fatigue, but there are regulatory and legal barriers within the TSB Act that prohibit proactive use of the data for safety purposes. Studies have been done, but no change has been made to the regulatory framework.

"Both the TCRC and TSB could be instrumental in pushing this safety-enhancing technology forward," it added.

Source : HKSG.

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