The Canadian Union of Public Employees says 126 rail-yard workers have received 72-hour lockout notice from their employer.
Southern Railway of British Columbia issued this after CUPE Local 7000 members rejected the company's final offer with a 91 percent "no" vote.
The lockout will take effect at 11:05 a.m. on Saturday (January 3).
"We had hoped to reach a fair and reasonable contract through negotiations at the bargaining table but the company has steadfastly refused to address our concerns, repeatedly tabling concessionary packages," CUPE Local 7000 president Bill Magri said in a news release. "Southern Railway's refusal to bargain is why our members on November 22 voted 98 per cent in favour of job action."
Southern Railway has 29 locomotives and 700 railcars and is part of the Washington Companies, which include Seaspan Corporation. The railway is the major freight transporter in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, which almost half the traffic originating or terminating at Annacis Island.
It says on its website that it has more than 150 shippers of automobile, forest, building, agricultural, chemical, consumer, and steel products.
Federally regulated companies, including railways, are permitted under federal law to use replacement workers—something that's illegal for provincially regulated entites.
Magri pointed out in the news release that diverting work from a bargaining unit is not allowed under the B.C. Labour Relations Code
"During the lockout, we are not only asking customers and others to respect picket lines," Magri stated. "We will also be seeking the support of the Teamsters, Longshoremen, Marine Workers, Grain Workers, UNIFOR, United Steelworkers, and any other affected union whose members are asked to transport 'hot' goods."