CN Rail cuts jobs as weakening economy hurts freight volumes
Canadian National Railway Co. has confirmed that it is cutting jobs as freight volumes and revenue continue to fall amid a weakening North American economy.
The company said in a statement that it will be “adjusting its resources to demand,” which means it will be placing some workers on leave and “reducing both management and union job numbers.”
About 1,600 workers will be laid off, the Globe and Mail reported Friday, and layoffs have already started.
“CN would like to express gratitude to the employees who will be leaving the company and thank them for their service,” the statement issued Friday afternoon reads.
This comes after the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said last month that its 3,000 members voted almost unanimously to go to a strike, which could start on Nov. 19.
The workers have been without a contract since July 23.
CN employs around 24,000 people across a rail network that spans Canada and parts of the United States.
In an interview with BNN Bloomberg last month, CN’s president and CEO alluded to looming layoffs.
“In a time like this where the North American economy, at least everything but the consumer, is slowing down, that means that we have to ramp down capital program. We’ll do that in 2020. And also we have to have less rolling stock and probably less employees,” JJ Ruest said.
The layoffs come as the company cut its profit outlook last quarter, citing a weaker economy and lower freight volumes.
Pedro Antunes, an economist with the Conference Board of Canada, said the issue is directly connected to broader economic decline.
“The problem is if we don’t have the goods to ship, we don’t have the capacity to produce the goods to ship, this is where essentially the transportation sector, CN, is seeing a decline in demand for its services,” Antunes said.
In September, Canadian National Railway Co.’s chief financial officer said that the company’s freight volumes and revenue had been hurt by the global economy slipping, as well as the U.S.-China trade war.
The layoffs are proof of just how much Canadian jobs rely on the strength of international markets, according to James Moore, the former minister of industry under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
“One in five Canadian jobs is dependent directly on trade. And we have a problem of a collapse of market access with the rest of the world, with the United States,” Moore said.