MASSE IN THE NEWS: Rail yard to stay open, CP says; Company says despite layoffs, west-end operations will continue

PUBLICATION: The Windsor Star
DATE: 2009.02.18
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A2
BYLINE: Trevor Wilhelm

Rail yard to stay open, CP says; Company says despite layoffs, west-end operations will continue

CP Rail is not shutting down its west-end rail yard despite suggestions from the CAW that it would be shuttered by June, the company said Tuesday.

"We continue to require operations in Windsor," said CP spokeswoman Breanne Feigel. "We service customers in Windsor in the automotive industry. We continue to require employees there to do that work."

The CAW said in a news release Monday that CP was cutting the jobs of 60 mechanical workers across Canada who are responsible for inspecting and repairing trains that have crossed the border. The union also said that in Windsor, CP "plans to shut the rail yard entirely." CAW Local 101 president Tom Murphy told The Star on Monday that would happen by June 6.

Feigel said Tuesday that among a couple hundred employees in Windsor, 24 mechanical services workers will be laid off. Another combined 13 layoffs will occur in London, Welland, Lambton and Oshawa for a total of 37 in Southern Ontario. The work will be transferred to Toronto.

Feigel said seven mechanical services positions will remain in Windsor.

On Tuesday, Murphy said in an interview that he hadn't heard of any other other job losses apart from the 24 CAW members, and others areas of the yard will remain operational.

But he added the CAW is still worried about what impact layoffs will have on safety.

"Our biggest concern is the public safety," said Murphy. "Our Canadian safety standards are a lot more stringent that the American. So they'll come through from the states in who knows what condition, and they'll not be properly inspected for six hours until they get to Toronto."

Windsor West MP Brian Masse is also raising safety concerns, as well as worries about what he calls poor border management on the Canadian side.

He's holding a news conference today to address the "potential jeopardy the security of the border is being placed in as well as the threat to public health and safety," according to a press release.

Masse said a rail safety report last year singled out the safety records of CN and CP.

"They were ranked really low, failing grades," he said in an interview.

"Since that time, there really hasn't been much improvement from the railway companies themselves."

Feigel said CP determined after an operational review that most of the mechanical services in areas including Windsor "were not required to safely operate in the corridor."