Canadian Plastics

Industry gets back on track after CN rail strike

The effects of the Canadian National (CN) Railway strike were felt throughout the different sectors of the plastic ...

March 5, 2007   Canadian Plastics

The effects of the Canadian National (CN) Railway strike were felt throughout the different sectors of the plastic industry, and many companies are finally returning to their normal production levels.

During the strike, plastic processors lamented the effect the strike was having on their operations.

CNs conductors and yard-service workers walked off the job on February 10, but CN and the United Transport Union reached a tentative agreement that had striking workers back to work last Monday.

In the first week of the strike, NOVA Chemicals Corporation called for the Canadian government to intervene and legislate the employees back to work because the strike was slowing the transportation of goods to and from its Canadian manufacturing facilities.

“Rail service is essential to the Canadian economy and the strike is beginning to impact our customers and our business,” said NOVAs chief operating officer Chris Pappas in a statement on February 16.

NOVA had a hard time delivering its polyethylene plastic pellets, and output at the companys facilities in Sarnia, Ont. And Joffre, Alta. were scaled back because of the limits on transportability.

“We reduced our production in both eastern and western Canada as a result of service disruptions related to the strike,” said company spokesperson Greg Wilkinson. “Overall, we were running at about 85 per cent of capacity.”

Since the end of the strike, NOVA has returned to normal production levels. Wilkinson noted that they “still have some challenges meeting specific requirements,” but the company is working closely with its clients to resolve the situation.

On the manufacturing side, the Truro, N.S. plant for Intertape Polymer Group Inc. voiced its concerns about the effect the strike could have on the availability of resins. The plant is one of about 15 facilities of a Montreal, Que.-based company that specializes in the manufacture of specialized polyolefin plastic and paper packaging products.

Speaking to the Nova Scotia Business Journal, one plant representative said they feared the plants coater operations would be shut down and 10 people would be sent home early because of the strike.

When reached after the strike, vice president of human resources Sue Karrel said the plant was able to avoid any closures despite its reliance on the rail-car transportation of resins. “We were very fortunate,” said Karrel. “As it turned out, management did deliver the resins to us [by truck].”

She noted that the plant had continued to get its resins, and the facility survived the rail strike without any major limitations on its daily operations.


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