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Rail strike, trucking shortage stoke forest industry fears

Mounting forestry concern

The Forest Products Association of Canada says a chronic shortage of truck drivers is compounding concerns about the impact of a strike at Canadian National Railway Co.

CEO Derek Nighbor says the strike could have a "devastating economic impact" on his industry, which is already reeling from a downturn that resulted in about two dozen mill shutdowns and hundreds of layoffs in British Columbia.

He says the forest industry supplies about 10 per cent of the tonnage transported on Canada's railway system, adding the lack of trucking alternatives to often remote facilities means transport bottlenecks and higher costs.

The strike by roughly 3,200 Teamsters Canada Rail Conference members began after the union and company failed to reach a deal by a Monday midnight deadline.

Conductors, trainpersons and yard workers took to the picket lines Tuesday, halting freight trains across the country.

On Wednesday, Pulse Canada and the Canadian Special Crops Association called on the federal government to "do everything in its power" to end the strike to limit damage to the industry and the Canadian economy.

The call was echoed by the Canadian Propane Association which warned that timely delivery of supply is important to ensure critical activities fuelled by propane can continue.



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