Canadian Citizen | Francophone workers under ‘pressure’

French was not only infiltrated on the board of Canadian National (CN). Its new chief executive, Tracy Robinson, was warned earlier this month that there had been repeated language incidents in the east of the country for about two years.

Posted at 5:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

Engine drivers, conductors and shipyard masters who are not “comfortable” enough to work in English and who would be subjected to “pressure”, “threats of disciplinary action” and “treatment that could sometimes lead to retaliation”… This is part of the Complaints raised by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference in a letter to Robinson of April 5th. The press got the document.


Tracy Robinson, CEO of Canadian National

“We know that diversity, equity and inclusion are core values ​​for CN, so it’s difficult for us to understand why we still have to make demands on Francophone rights in 2022,” write union leaders Jean-Michel Hallé and Alain Graten.

They are concerned about a language imbalance within the company’s operations in Montreal, particularly at the Taschenreau rail yard, with the arrival of “several monolingual English-speaking employees to fill a staffing shortage”.

This letter is issued by the Canadian National Railway Company – subject to the Official Languages ​​Act – has been heavily criticized for not proposing a French-speaking candidate for a seat on its 11-member board of directors.

Asked about the April 5 letter, CN replied that it “respects[ait] that Official Languages ​​Act and said he was “proud” that his staff and customers could “communicate in the official language of their choice”.

translate staff

As recently as February 20, the country’s largest railroad reportedly required a bilingual employee to act as a translator for a crew to enable a train to perform certain maneuvers, the letter said The press has received. The two-page document does not contain any further details on the incident in question.

“Another employee who mentioned [sa difficulté] Working in English, he was instructed to remain seated at the station and telephone his superior [toutes les] two hours,” he said.

In addition, as of summer 2021, there is only one superintendent for the Eastern Canada region (Quebec and the Atlantic provinces), the Teamsters claim. According to the union, this superintendent does not speak French.

“Although in our eyes this is a profound lack of respect for French-speaking employees and the legislation in force, it is above all a major security issue,” writes MM. Hallé and Gratien.

How can we expect safe railway operations if the actors involved cannot communicate adequately in the same language?

Excerpt from the letter to the CEO of CN

Railroad workers also wrote to The press to report such incidents.

“Recently, an employee was threatened with disciplinary action if he refused to work in English,” said a worker who asked for anonymity from his employer for fear of reprisals. In another case, the company had a trainee sit in the locomotive and translate the radio traffic. »


CN cars are waiting in Richmond

In 2020, the Teamsters arrested then-President and CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest to express their concern and dissatisfaction. In particular, the union lamented a deterioration in French-language services following the relocation of a human resources office to Edmonton, Alberta.

“Since that event, we’ve seen incidents escalate at breakneck speed,” said Teamsters Quebec communications director, Stéphane Lacroix.

After the change of control at CN, the union felt the need to call on Robinson. A meeting between the employer and the union on this subject is planned for next week. Mr Lacroix hopes the company’s new management will not “just send out wishful thinking”.

According to CN, the situation at the Taschenreau shipyard is due to a “temporary labor shortage”.

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    In recent years there have been at least two French-speaking administrators on the CN board.

    Source: Canadian National Railway Company

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