EXCLUSIVE: CN Rail's Ruest says recovery from strike may take weeks
Canadian National Railway Co. chief executive JJ Ruest said the railway’s recovery process will take some time after a week-long strike had a significant ripple effect across the country’s major industries.
“It takes a little time,” said Ruest in an exclusive interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday. “After eight days of limited amount of operation, there’s obviously a lot of pent-up demand out there in the marketplace that’s looking for CN to move the product to market.”
“It may be 10 days, it may be two weeks, but we are very focused to get things back to normal.”
CN Rail and Teamsters Canada reached a tentative deal Tuesday to renew a collective agreement for more than 3,000 workers, ending an eight-day strike that reduced the country’s largest railway’s capacity to 10 per cent, halting shipments and disrupting industries across the country.
Ruest said details of the settlement agreement won’t become available until the deal is ratified by union members, which is expected in the coming weeks.
He noted the company is “very aware” of the impact his company’s operations have on the Canadian economy as a whole and is focused on helping industries recover.
“A lot of the economy depends on us,” he said. “That’s one of the things during this whole process many Canadians and many politicians would probably have seen, exactly what we do and how we contribute.”
“In the middle of this was the [Canadian] economy,” Ruest added. “So, we were even more focused to find a way on finding a solution not just for employees and shareholders.”
Ruest said the mediator assigned to resolving the strike was effective, but the federal government had a limited role in reaching an agreement.
“This was resolved at the table and nowhere else,” he said. “We’re moving on and I think our employees will hopefully agree with the terms negotiated by the union leaders. Our focus is on how can we help the Canadian economy get back on its feet quickly,” Ruest said.
“The future looks bright. This was a significant bump in the road, but we’re back.”