Today marks the one-year anniversary of the lockout of Vancouver’s Rocky Mountaineer train attendants, which I wrote about a few months ago in this post. The Vancouver Courier newspaper has a very good update on the dispute here. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the last few months, other than the company expanding its services despite the dispute. It’s still using replacement workers to staff the trains – and, according to this press release, the company plans to expand its services even more in the 2013 season.
According to the Vancouver Courier story, the two parties in the dispute (Rocky Mountaineer and Teamsters Local 31), aren’t even bargaining. Hmm. Canada’s federal government seems quite happy to quickly impose laws to end labour disputes on the basis that any service disruption might affect the Canadian economy – and this is a dispute that falls under federal jurisdiction. Certainly the locked-out workers have taken a big economic hit by going without a reliable salary for a year, and the economy has been affected because they haven’t been spending that money on housing, food, and so on.
As for economic harm to the employer, the Courier story says that the train station is no longer being rented for special events, but that isn’t completely clear from its website. Some Rocky Mountaineer travellers have alleged that the company hasn’t told them about the lockout when they booked their trips. Others have refused to cross the picket lines and then been denied a refund for their tickets. But if there’s been any other impact on the company’s business, the news about it isn’t getting out.
It’s a sad commentary on the Canadian government’s attitude toward industrial relations that the government is so eager to jump into disputes without giving the parties a decent opportunity to settle their differences themselves, but shows no interest whatsoever in intervening in a year-long lockout where the parties aren’t even trying to bargain. If any kind of dispute could benefit from some form of third-party assistance, surely this is it.