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March 29, 2004

Ontario Northland restructures Train Crews

North Bay - - Ontario Northland Railway is pleased to announce an agreement with their two operating unions, United Transportation Union and Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. The agreement, which will provide reduced train crews while maintaining stringent safety requirements and efficient operations, was ratified by the membership of the two operating unions today. It will become effective on or before Nov. 12, 2004 when a number of employees have the option to take an early retirement package.

"These operational changes will enhance our ability to react to our customers’ needs in a timely and efficient manner, yet still provide the highest level of safety. We have reviewed the industry standards and believe this agreement puts us in line with or ahead of railway best practices, recognizing that we are the only true regional railroad left in Canada “, said Steve Carmichael, Vice-President Transportation Services. Ontario Northland has incorporated many crew changes over the years since the railway was the first in the country to utilize diesel-electric locomotives. These changes are the next step, incorporating flexible crewing and improved technologies into the workplace.

“Productivity improvements will enable the company to realize significant savings while the remaining employees will share a portion of those savings and the right to reclaim the affected positions in the event of a downturn in business. The Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Rick Bartolucci, delivered on his promise to keep the ONTC a public agency and we agreed to co-operate in finding ways to improve the financial health of Ontario Northland. This agreement represents our commitment to Ontario Northland as we now look to the company to expand the business, creating opportunities for our members, with a crew structure similar to other railways in the country", said Phil Koning, General Chairperson, United Transportation Union.

“This Agreement allows several of our members an opportunity to retire early with an enhanced pension, share productivity gains with those remaining, and protects our younger members by including a provision for them to reclaim the affected positions,” said Shawn O’Donnell, Local Chairperson for Teamsters Canada Rail Conference. “We kept our commitment to work with the ONTC and the Government to find ways to make the ONR more financially viable and more importantly, protected our members’ interests with a first-class reduced crew agreement” concluded O’Donnell.

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For additional information please contact:

Steve Carmichael
Vice President Rail
Ontario Northland
(705) 472-4500 – Ext 319

Phil Koning
General Chairperson
UnitedTransportation Union – Local 1161
(705) 475-2566

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